Increase racial diversity

Report recommendation: Strive to increase the racial diversity of students and staff and to reduce the degree attainment gap, in line with the University of Glasgow's Equality and Diversity Policy. Include the awarding of scholarships to students of African-Caribbean descent to help address their under-representation in the University.

Understanding racism, transforming university cultures

The significant body of research and programme of reparatory justice has provided a foundation for the University to refocus and address current staff and student experiences of racism and racial inequality. In February 2021, we published a major new report and action plan, “Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures”.

As a direct response to a 2019 Equality and Human Rights Commission report, which uncovered widespread evidence of racial harassment on university campuses, we established a project group to consider the recommendations and to research the local impact at our University. The group met several times and considered a range of data and evidence, including surveying around 500 students, as well as a carrying out in-depth interviews with 20 ethnic minority staff asking them about their experience of racism while studying or working at the University.

As a result of this work, we have published a comprehensive report and action plan to help tackle racism and racial harassment on campus as part of our effort to address racial inequality.

Understanding racism, transforming university cultures

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor on the launch of the report and action plan.

Summary of report findings

  • One in two ethnic minority students had been racially harassed highlighting a significant variance with the handful of student racial harassment cases captured by our University processes.
  • Half of all ethnic minority students reported being harassed between two and five times since beginning their studies at the University of Glasgow while one in 20 students reported more than 20 separate incidents of harassment.
  • A reluctance to report such harassment because of a lack of confidence that such incidents would be treated seriously combined with a fear of reprisals from fellow students and staff.
  • Among staff, coded forms of racism were more prevalent than overt racism. Such coded but persistent racial harassment has a corrosive and scarring effect on the physical and mental health of ethnic minority staff.
  • More than a quarter of ethnic minority students who took part in the survey say the University of Glasgow has a serious problem with racism.

Alongside such interpersonal racism, the report also found evidence of structural disadvantage facing ethnic minority staff and students including:

  • A statistically significant degree awarding gap between Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students in 2018/19 of over 10% in comparison to their White peers.
  • The disproportionate precarity of our ethnic minority staff who are between two and three times more likely to be employed on fixed term contracts.
  • No ethnic minority representation on the three major decision-making bodies of the University – Senior Management Group, Court and Senate.

Action plan

The resulting recommendations in the agreed action plan include:

  • Senior Management Group to publicly commit to taking an anti-racist approach to University processes and systems, promoting a zero tolerance policy to racial harassment on campus.
  • Devising and developing pre-entry courses for staff and students on acceptable codes of behaviour at the University.
  • Building a strand of decolonising the curriculum into the University’s next Learning and Teaching Strategy.
  • Racial equality/Anti-racism campaign on campus.
  • Specific reference made to racial harassment in the University’s
    • Equality and Diversity Policy
    • Dignity at Work and Study Policy
    • Student Codes of Conduct
    • Complaints process.
  • Recruitment of new Respect Advisers to ensure ethnic diversity.
  • Anti-racist and cultural awareness training for all staff, prioritising those involved in staff or student investigation processes.
  • Implementation of further anti-racist training beyond the mandatory requirement for the certain roles including the Senior Management Group and the University’s Senior Leaders Forum.

James McCune Smith Scholarships

In September 2019, we launched 30 new undergraduate scholarships available for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students. The scholarship supports students who could face financial difficulties taking up their place to study at the University.

The scholarships are named after American abolitionist and medic James McCune Smith. McCune Smith was the first African American to achieve a medical degree, graduating from the University in 1837. The new £90.6 million learning and teaching hub, which is opening in 2021, is also named in his honour.