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Sussex responds to report on reducing racial inequality in higher education

The University of Sussex has acknowledged it must do more to ensure fair access and progression for black and minority ethnic (BME) staff and students.

The University was responding to a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), which highlights a number of barriers to achieving race equality in universities.

Hugo Dale-Rivas, Policy Officer at HEPI, edited the collection of essays that make up the document. He said: “The report shows many things we need to do. For instance, all universities – not just a third as now – should apply for awards with the Race Equality Charter.”

Joining the Race Equality Charter in December 2018 was the starting point for work at Sussex to help deliver the University’s equality, diversity and inclusion goals, as set out in Inclusive Sussex.

Professor Saul Becker, the University of Sussex Provost, chairs the self-assessment team that is steering this work. He said: “This new report is a timely reminder that we and other universities still have a long way to go when it comes to achieving equality for BME staff and students.

“We showed our commitment to progressing race equality and improving our campus by signing up to the Race Equality Charter so all feel safe, equal and included.

“We are now taking action to understand and address the barriers to success.”

Sussex is one of just 56 institutions that have so far signed up to the Race Equality Charter, run by Advanced HE. The charter provides a framework for a university to identify and reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of BME students and staff.

It is an outcome-focused programme similar to that of Athena SWAN, which recognises the advancement of gender equality in higher education.

The Race Equality Charter team at Sussex was bolstered this summer with the appointment of Ilyas Nagdee as Race Equality Project Manager.

Ilyas and the rest of the group are looking at the experiences of both students and staff across all areas of the University, including curriculum diversity, progression and attainment.

In line with many other UK universities, there is a significant gap at Sussex in attainment between BME and white students. Currently, the BME attainment gap at Sussex is 14.3%, with the black attainment gap at 26%.

Ilyas said: “At Sussex, like many of our counterparts across higher education, we are well aware of our responsibility for tackling the attainment gap - and indeed many of our staff and students have already began taking action on this issue.

“However, we want to go beyond this and set out plans of action to create an equal education system.

“From co-creation models of teaching and learning, to decolonising the curriculum, it’s crucial we begin an era of honest conversation and action on race.

“Initiatives will be rolled out across schools in the coming year so that, rather than lagging behind, we will begin to lead the fight against systemic inequality.”

Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Tuesday, 24 September 2019


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