By Sianne Chinwuba, #150Leaders alumna
They said that universities are open and inclusive for everyone who wishes to further their education and start a new career or progress in their current one. But as we know, there are still difficult issues surrounding the topic of race at universities across the country. Of course, there have been many conversations surrounding race, equality, and diversity but what are the outcomes of these discussions? Where are the conversations leading to?
Universities across the UK need to work better with students who experience racism to create better understanding and real feelings of belonging for those student groups. University staff need to proactively acknowledge the disadvantages and difference minoritised groups face.
Change starts with recognising mistakes and taking accountability for actions. It also means drastic and practical measures need to be put in place to meet the needs of a diverse student population and work towards closing the attainment gap.
What can universities do to improve inclusivity and belonging for its minoritised students?
- Take accountability for their own actions.
- Allow minoritised groups to take the lead by allowing them to have more control over what they feel will benefit them at university.
- Work better and closer with minoritised students to meet their demands and desires. E.g. greater representation across the university, work and placement opportunities, open and honest communication without gaslighting.
- Pushing for representation of race and skin tone in healthcare textbooks
- Improve the diversity of leadership teams and university boards to make them more inclusive and representative of wider society.
- Put in appropriate consequences towards staff who continuously fail to listen and work towards appropriately dealing with the issues and complaints from students who experience racism.
- Create a system where minoritised students can submit complaints respectfully and freely. Complaints should be reviewed anonymously so that it prevents racial discrimination and neglect from higher authorities within the universities.
- Proactively recruit a diverse range of professionals to give a talk at lecturers, particularly in the courses with fewer minoritised students.
- Prioritise minoritised groups onto courses where they have traditionally been underrepresented.
Raising awareness and having the same conversations aren’t enough anymore. Words hit and can bounce off the walls, but actions can break down walls.
Change and improvements start with actions. It starts when we look inwardly and decide to open our minds and openly challenge the situation right in front of us, instead of being embarrassed and afraid of the truth, especially if it hits close to home.
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