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Newcastle University’s action against racial inequality

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Newcastle University’s action against racial inequality

Today, Universities UK has published new guidance on tackling racial harassment in higher education.

The 12 key recommendations have been made by an advisory group convened by UUK in October 2019, and include practical steps that all universities can implement to support their decisive action against racial inequality.

In the last few months, we have already taken action on some of these areas including:

  • creation of the cross-University work-streams to develop the targets and milestones of our Race Equality Charter Action Plan
  • Report and Support for students (soon to extend to staff)
  • appointment of an EDI Training Lead, a Hate Crime and Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Lead who will work in liaison with our Race Equality and Accreditation Advisor and other core teams
  • launch of our Inclusive Futures: Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Leadership Programme
  • work on Decolonising the Curriculum  in collaboration with our Students Union
  • launch of a new investigation protocol for students who experience any kind of discrimination while at University
  • support for micro-aggression training and awareness-raising in partnership with our students’ union

At Newcastle, we have made this issue an institutional priority, led by our Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Julie Sanders, signifying the strong commitment of the University to this work.

But we understand that there is still much work to do.

One of the key criticisms in the report is that Universities have been too slow to act.  Institutional-wide support to drive forward our anti-racism work and the development of the action plan for our Race Equality Charter (REC), the high-level objectives and work-streams for which we published a few weeks ago, will now be vital.

As well as underlining the action that we must all take in order to drive change at pace, the UUK report also highlights the institutional racism that is perpetuated within the higher education sector.

Speaking directly to colleagues and students in a personal video today, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Chris Day, said: “It is shocking that in 2020, our universities are still not the inclusive, safe and equitable environments that they should be.

“So I wanted to personally assure you that, together with my senior team, I will be acting on this report.

“I am determined to make sure that Newcastle University is a place where racism is not tolerated and where systems and processes are designed to ensure everyone is supported to reach their full potential.

“A place where everyone feels valued, regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality or faith.”

After the winter break, Professor Day will be leading a virtual event to discuss today’s report and to hear from colleagues and students their thoughts and views about the Race Equality Charter work and the targets and milestones being developed by the various REC work-streams

Professor Day adds: “The events of 2020, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of the disturbing events worldwide, have highlighted for all of us the extent of racial inequality in the UK.

“Universities have a responsibility, not just to educate people of all ages and backgrounds in their chosen subjects, but to help shape the minds and attitudes of contemporary society as well as future generations.

“I hope that at Newcastle we can help to lead that change.”

More information about the event and how to sign up will be included in the next NU Connections on December 2.