Why do we need an anti-racism campaign?

Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures

Commissioned in 2019 and published in 2021, the University of Glasgow’s 'Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures’ report spoke to around 500 students as well as a carrying out very in-depth interviews with 20 ethnic minority staff asking them about their experience of racism while studying or working at the University.

The report found:

  • 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.

Progress and Next Steps

The Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures (URTUC) report and action plan highlighted structural racial inequalities, and we have started the journey to address these. The first anniversary event since the publication of the report and action plan, captured some of the ongoing work, and Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, our Principal, reiterated his public support to become an anti-racist institution, which embraces its civic responsibility and builds an inclusive and diverse community.

Decisive leadership from the Principal and Senior Management Group, is shown through their individual public commitments to racial equality. Examples of progress relating to these objectives and the URTUC action plan are included under each of the principles below.

The University of Glasgow takes an anti-racist approach to race equality work and accept our processes will contain structural inequalities.

  • The University has set a KPI to growing the percentage of UK Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues, aligned to the local travel to work area. In 2020/21 we saw a small increase of 0.4% to 4.5%.
  • Devised, recruited and appointed an EDI Policy Adviser to support and facilitate anti-racist initiatives and implement parts of the URTUC action plan.
  • The University is undertaking an in-depth analysis of recruitment data by ethnicity so we can fully understand how to improve our recruitment processes.
  • All SMG colleagues experience have had the opportunity to discus race and anti-racism at three events – one with John Amaechi and the second with an external training provider.
  • The University continues to host a range of events to mark Black History Month.

Racial harassment in any form is unacceptable on our campus.

The University has reviewed it’s policies and the appropriate policy frameworks are in place. We have revised our online reporting mechanisms for bullying, discrimination, and harassment.

Following the successful Social Marketing programme at the Adam Smith Business School, led by Dr Thomas Anker, the URTUC report was used as stimulant for the programme’s projects. Further information on how this project influenced the campaign is in the Story of the UofG Anti-Racist Campaign.

A successful recruitment campaign for new Respect Advisers was conducted with 38 new volunteers for the roles. These colleagues have now received training and are in position to support students and staff who experience harassment or bullying.

Colleagues from People and Organisational Development and Student and Academic Services have received Racial Harassment Investigators training to understand the specific issues relating to racial harassment and it’s wider impact.

Our curriculum and learning community will thrive when it is reflective of global perspectives and when race equality is embedded.

The University has conducted a detailed analysis of the degree awarding gap by ethnicity.

The analysis found that:

  • there is a significant awarding gap between BAME and Non-BAME for most years.
  • Within BAME, Black students underperform.
  • BAME males underperform as compared to females.
  • BAME students from lower Scottish Index of. Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) perform poorly compared to those from Higher SIMD.

The University has supported academic colleagues to consider how to Decolonise their Curriculum through:

  • Decolonising the Curriculum Conference in May 2021
  • Learning and Teaching Away Day in October 2021
  • Created a Community of Practice to look at decolonising the curriculum in partnership with students and colleagues, which was launched in September 2022
  • A first steps guidance document to start the journey of decolonising the curriculum was published by Times Higher Education.

We want all our staff and students, particularly those from ethnic minorities to achieve their potential through our excellent learning and career development opportunities.

We have launched the UofG Global Majority Network, which is a community for a Black and Minority Ethnic colleagues. Already we have had over 50 members of staff join the conversation, in an online space, to share events and discussions. We invited Professor of Sociology, Gary Younge of the University of Manchester to meet the network members.

Professor Younge reflected on his experience at The Guardian newspaper and the setting up of their network for staff of colour. A further working lunch took place with Professor Paul Miller and network members in summer 2022. We have created online profiles for network members.

We have carried out focus groups with ethnic minority academic colleagues on experiences of promotion and career progression, and have:

  • Identified that the funding landscape is inequitable to UK peers.
  • Concerns about ambiguous progression and promotion criteria – particularly esteem.
  • Networking concerns.

James McCune Smith PhD Scholarships were launched in February 2022. In the first year of promotion, there were 730 expressions of interest, 200 applications for 10 fully funded places across the four colleges. The calibre was so high, the University awarded 17 scholarships in total. The scholarship includes both mentorship and industry placement for the successful student.

In July 2021, our John Smith Centre launched its Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders programme to provide professional and personal development opportunities for minority ethnic people between 18 and 29 across Scotland.

Anti-racism training has been delivered to the Senior Management Group, Colleges Management Group, and Professional Services. Online race equality training ‘Let’s talk about race’ is available to complete for all colleagues and face to face training has been delivered to over 600 Operations colleagues.