Message from the Principal: Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures

Content warning - The content and discussion in this open letter and report covers themes of racism and racial harassment, including detailed accounts of lived experiences of racial harassment from staff and students and the detrimental effects of this to physical and mental health. Although a challenging read for all, this report may be  particularly difficult for those who have experienced racism or harassment. If you require support relating to the themes of the report, please visit  to find both internal and external resources. If you have any comments or suggestions to make on the report, please email the University’s Race Champion Bonnie Dean:


Open Letter to staff and students from Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli on Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures Report

Good morning,

Today the University of Glasgow publishes a major new report “Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures” and action plan.

This investigation was prompted by a study from the Equality and Human Rights Commission into racial harassment faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff in UK universities.

While tackling racism is a problem that extends far beyond the University of Glasgow, we resolved to act and launched a major review of our policies and procedures concerning racial harassment.

The resulting report is a difficult read. On behalf of the University of Glasgow, I want to apologise unreservedly to my colleagues and our students who have been impacted by the experience of racism or racial injustice while working or studying here. I recognise the detrimental impact this has had on your wellbeing and your sense of belonging.

I also wish to affirm that the University of Glasgow aims to be an anti-racist organisation, one which seeks to redress not only interpersonal racism but the mechanisms and processes which produced the unacceptable structural disadvantages identified in the report. Only then will ethnic minority staff and students genuinely feel they are part of an inclusive University community, one that does not tolerate any form of discrimination.

I want to thank everyone who took part in this study and who have spoken bravely, openly and honestly about their experiences. My thanks, too, to the working group who brought this report together including members of the University’s Race Equality Group co-chaired by Professor Satnam Virdee and Bonnie Dean; Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council and the Equality and Diversity Unit including Mhairi Taylor and Cassie Masterton.

The Senior Management Group will be taking an active part in driving the new way forward. Every one of the leadership team have set an objective linked to the report – these objectives can be found at .

Through a comprehensive action plan, our pledge is that we will work with you to help advance race equality and tackle the root causes of institutional racism.

Over the course of the coming months, we hope there will be opportunities for you to engage with this work through your school, institution, college or service. Further information will appear on the following webpages – Equality & Diversity or Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures.

This will include new online training and a Decolonising the Curriculum event in Spring 2021. A practical but very important point for our community to consider is to check and update their diversity data online (through Core or MyCampus) as we currently have significant gaps in ethnicity and other data sets at the University.

While we recognise that tackling racism remains a problem for society at large, to be the institution we aspire to be, the University is clear that we must act and act decisively. This report and the accompanying action plan offers us a way forward to deliver real and meaningful change. 

If you have any comments or suggestions to make on the report, please email the University’s Race Champion Bonnie Dean on

I look forward to working with colleagues and students to actively deliver a place of learning that is committed to racial equality for all.

Yours sincerely

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli,

Principal & Vice-Chancellor

University of Glasgow


First published: 16 February 2021