Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Race equality

Find out what we are doing at Sussex towards race equality.

Anti-racist Sussex: A Pledge

The University of Sussex recognises that racial disparities and racism have historically pervaded institutions like ours. We pledge that we will seek to be Anti-racist by making all necessary changes to the education, research and administrative activities of the University. Through diligent, sustained anti-racist work we will move towards being an inclusive university that genuinely celebrates and reflects diversity.

We recognise that racism is entrenched in UK society and manifests in everyday individual and institutional processes and behaviours.

Racism is also pernicious in UK higher education and with its consequential disparities requires a systematic response to ensure that we all benefit from a world class university experience. Universities UK (UUK), a collective of 140 universities, conducted a study into BAME student attainment at UK universities (#CLOSINGTHEGAP, 2019) and found a 13% gap between the likelihood of white students and students from BAME backgrounds receiving a 1st or a 2:1 degree.

Similarly, according to the Universities and College Union (UCU 2019), ethnicity is a significant factor in staff pay gaps as BAME staff are less likely to hold senior positions and more likely to be on a lower salary than their white counterparts.

As an institution, we must actively play our part in dismantling the systems and structures that lead to racial inequality, disadvantage and under-representation and ensure that our commitment to anti-racism becomes transparent in the culture of the University and the everyday experiences of our community.

What does it mean to be ‘anti-racist’?

The University of Sussex pledges that we will seek to be anti-racist. We recognise that we need to be more proactive in challenging ideas, systems and structures and that it is not enough to be simply not racist.

This pledge augments our approach as described in our Inclusive Sussex and a Better University for a Better World strategies and will be evidenced in our policies and corporate strategies. We will address issues such as negative, race-related aspects of the Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic (BAME) staff and student experience; the BAME awarding gap; and BAME staff pay gaps.

Racism and racial disparities can present in our university in various ways. As a result of this Pledge we will seek to improve: Eurocentrism in curricula; racial disparities in the research, learning and working environment; racial harassment and discrimination; BAME representation and career progression in academic and professional service roles; and racial literacy and competencies in staff and student bodies.

These disparities are consequences of historic societal and institutional processes that are systemic and often complex. Addressing them will require a diversity of thought, proactivity and long-term commitment.

Through diligent anti-racist work, we can confidently move towards being an inclusive university that genuinely celebrates diversity.

Vision for an Anti-racist Sussex includes but is not limited to:

  • A University Executive Group committed to anti-racism, and related personal and professional development.
  • A Pro-Vice Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion as executive lead on race equality and anti-racism.
  • Race Equality Action Plan: as we work toward achieving the Advance HE Race Equality Charter Mark we will continue to review anti-racism commitments in our schools and professional services.
  • Anti-racism training and development opportunities for staff and students. There is step-by step guidance to support enrolment onto the Union Black training here: Union Black Guide 
  • Promotion of our Report and Support tool: to ensure our community is supported and protected if anyone experiences bullying, harassment, a hate incident, sexual violence, domestic abuse, or discrimination.
  • Review, revise and debias recruitment and promotion systems to make them anti-racist and anti-discriminatory.
  • Eliminate ethnicity pay gaps and improve workforce representation.
  • Revise the structure of equality, diversity and inclusion work to ensure that race, and antiracism work is adequately resourced and sustainable.
  • Work toward a more diverse and inclusive curriculum that inspires and reflects our University community.
  • Eliminate the BAME degree awarding gap.
  • Develop a communications plan that improves the transparency of the work on race equality.

We recognise that the term ‘BAME’ - which stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic - is contested. For some it is considered as a homogenising term which does not appreciate the varied historical and lived experiences of those who have a wide range of heritages and are racially minoritised. Others find it helpful in specific contexts. Recognising this, we will take a flexible approach. For example, the work that we are undertaking at the University will endeavour to disaggregate data and other qualitative information to better understand the disadvantages faced by specific minoritised groups. ​Meanwhile, official data reporting processes set up by bodies such as Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) require us to report using the term BAME, so this terminology will still be present in some of our communications.

Race Equality Charter

Find out more about our Race Equality Charter 

GTRSB Pledge

Find out more about our Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen and Boaters Pledge

Ethnic Minority staff network

Find out about our staff networks.

Ethnicity pay gaps

You can view past reports on ethnicity pay gaps published by the University.

More documents and updates