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Anti-Racist Curriculum Project

A new collaborative research project funded by SFC and in collaboration with QAA Scotland that aims to understand and support the development of an anti-racist curriculum for universities and colleges in Scotland.
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The Anti-Racist Curriculum Project presents an exciting opportunity to further capitalise on the current sector wide commitment to tackle racism in the Scottish HE and FE sector. This builds on the excellent work of the SFC funded ‘Tackling Racism on Campus project and involve a strategic collaboration between Advance HE and the next Enhancement Themes programme of activity (managed on behalf of the sector by QAA Scotland).

Embedding consideration of race equality in university and college curricula is a core part of a ‘whole institution’ approach to race equality. This is the first time the sector has attempted such a task across Scotland and its tertiary institutions. The Anti-Racist Curriculum (ARC) team have been galvanised by the positivity and interest expressed by colleagues around our remit and energised by the commitment to, and opportunity for, supporting collective change that this project affords. We recognise that there are existing pockets of good ARC practice across Scotland and beyond, as well as colleagues who are keen but unsure where or how to begin. We appreciate that this work can be challenging and feel uncomfortable at times. We want to support all colleagues and students whether ‘new to’ or ‘further along’ in their ARC journey, and provide Scottish FE and HE focused guidance on how to embed race equality in curricula to ensure Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and staff are valued, supported and enabled to succeed in Scottish institutions.

The Anti-Racist Curriculum Project Executive Group

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What is the Anti-Racist Curriculum Project?

Project Aim

To support tertiary colleagues to systematically embed race equality in curricula throughout Scottish FE and HE.

Project Output

The creation of a Getting Started ‘Guide’ to help institutions begin their journey towards designing and delivering Anti-Racist Curricula.

Phase 1 of the ARC Project focused on ’starting the conversation’ and is a short-lived (10 months) project resulting in a final ‘Getting Started Guide’ designed to help institutions begin their journey towards developing Anti-Racist Curricula. The web-based ‘Guide’ serves as an online library of resources for colleagues to explore at their own pace and adapt to their own needs.

Next steps                                                                                                              

As Phase 1 of the collaborative ARC project ends (October 2021), Phase 2 will be taken forwards by QAA Scotland, supported by Advance HE and the wider Scottish tertiary sector.

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The Anti-Racist Curriculum Project Guide

Phase 1 of the ARC Project focused on ’starting the conversation’ and is a short-lived (10 months) project resulting in a final ‘Getting Started Guide’ designed to help institutions begin their journey towards developing Anti-Racist Curricula. The web-based ‘Guide’ serves as an online library of resources for colleagues to explore at their own pace and adapt to their own needs.

The Guide includes 16 resources which range from briefings and overviews, provocation pieces with self-reflection, short films and visual sketches, outlines for workshops, and templates for planning to offer varying ways for colleagues to engage.

Access the guide
ARC resources
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How did the Anti-Racist Curriculum Project develop?

The Anti-Racist Curriculum (ARC) project was born of collaborative cross-sector conversations, initially between Advance HE and QAA Scotland, driven by a recognised need for the development of an ARC within the Scottish tertiary sector and with it the practical guidance required to support colleagues in ‘getting started’. It further capitalises on the current sector-wide commitment to tackle racism in the Scottish HE and FE sector and builds on the excellent work of the SFC commissioned ‘Tackling Racism on Campus’ project.

ARC was commissioned by SFC and managed by AHE on behalf of SFC. It was further endorsed at the early stages by the Scottish HE Enhancement Committee and Universities Scotland Learning and Teaching Committee, and involves a strategic collaboration with the current Enhancement Themes programme of activity (managed on behalf of the sector by QAA Scotland) around Resilient Learning Communities which further underpins the sector mandate that initially drove and continues to advocate for the ARC project.

The ARC project is indebted to the labour and contributions of Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues alongside white allies. The Executive Group and Working Group comprises over 30 tertiary staff and students from across Scottish universities, colleges and agencies including senior leaders, EDI practitioners, learning and teaching experts, sabbatical officers, and academic development staff who bring a range of lived experience and sector knowledge to the creation of these resources. Further sector consultation was undertaken alongside, researching the significant work that had gone before and meeting with current ARC practitioners.

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How did the guide develop?

We focused our efforts on developing introductory resources which would stimulate, facilitate, and move the ARC conversation forward.

This was in response to sector feedback that colleagues often felt ill-equipped and inhibited to begin discussions around ARC – a vital first step in a much longer process. Motivated to address this barrier (if colleagues cannot talk about ARC how can they ultimately develop one?) our aim was to provide a platform for learning, reflection, and planning. To support the building of a shared racial literacy and better equipping colleagues to have those conversations confidently and sensitively.

There is no one way to develop an ARC and there is a myriad of needs and viewpoints within our learning communities. Our approach has been highly collaborative with shared authorship modelling the ARC spirit of encouraging and embracing a plurality of voices and narratives while broadening curricula horizons.  The Guide is a curation of those varied perspectives and approaches. Each piece is a ‘work in progress’ offering suggestions and ideas and reflecting the dynamic and developing nature of race equality work. Intended to be the ‘starting point’ from which personal and organisational conversations and actions can flow.

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Who is the guide for?

These resources were developed by and for the Scottish tertiary sector and intended for the widest usage amongst its students and staff. Some will be more relevant for specific practitioners, such as teaching staff or senior leaders, but all have been designed with an eye to usefulness, inclusivity and shared purpose for whoever and wherever you are on your anti-racist journey. Similarly, some examples may focus on a particular discipline or organisational structure for illustrative purposes but the core elements remain the same for all to be applied and adapted where required.

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Project Executive Group

Khadija Mohammed
Senior Lecturer, University of the West of Scotland (Chair)

Adrian Lui Picture FrameKhadija is a Senior Lecturer and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the School of Education and Social Sciences. Her PhD centres on race equality by exploring the lived experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic teachers in Scotland with a focus on celebrating their cultural, linguistic and religious identities. Khadija is the co-founder and Chair of SAMEE. This is a community-led organisation providing support to educators and those in support and guidance roles across the Scottish Education system – nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. Khadija received the Scottish Trade Union Congress Equality Award in 2019. Khadija is the first BAME Muslim educator to be elected as the Vice-Convenor of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).



Professor Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal Education, The University of Aberdeen (Vice-Chair)

Adrian Lui Picture FrameProfessor Ruth Taylor took up the role of Vice-Principal Education at The University of Aberdeen in November 2019. She is responsible for leading the effective delivery of the University’s strategic objectives for Education. Areas of responsibility include: quality and innovation in learning, teaching and assessment; student experience and engagement, including student support; student success; employability and entrepreneurship; quality assurance and enhancement across the provision. Ruth is also responsible for leading the University’s work on race equality and the Race Equality Charter.

Ruth’s research interests include student retention, the first-year student experience, social capital in the context of the student experience, compassion in healthcare practice, and student leadership in healthcare practice.


Professor Clare Peddie
Vice Principal Education (Proctor), University of St Andrews (Vice-Chair)

Clare Peddie Picture FrameProfessor Clare Peddie is a graduate of the University of St Andrews. Her career has been focussed on education in biology and she was the first education-focussed Professor appointed at her university. Her undergraduate degree and PhD were both in Marine Biology; her research career moved into medical research before she returned to take an education-focused position at St Andrews. She has held roles as Director of Teaching for the School of Biology, ProDean for Undergraduates, ProDean for Taught Postgraduates and Head of School. She was promoted to Professor and was appointed to the role of Vice-Principal Education (Proctor) at the University of St Andrews in May 2019. External to her University, she has a depth of experience as an external examiner, an institutional reviewer for the QAA in Scotland and often conducts subject-based and degree-accreditation reviews of other institutions. She is the sector lead of the current Enhancement Theme: Resilient Learning Communities. When the pandemic allows she still teaches marine biology in the field at undergraduate and masters level and has interests in the role of experiential learning in effective teaching.


Alison Eales
Quality Enhancement Specialist, QAA Scotland (QAAS Representation)

Alison Eales Picture FrameAlison is a Quality Enhancement Specialist at QAA Scotland, where she supports the Enhancement Themes and related projects. Much of her recent work has been on accessibility and inclusion relating to online and blended learning. She has also managed projects about support for care experienced students, and has a longstanding interest in LGBTQ+ equality. Alison is delighted to be involved with this project, not only because of its likely impact in the sector, but also because it is an opportunity to develop personally as an ally.


Mia Liyanage
Associate Researcher for the Project

Mia Liyanage Picture FrameMia is the author of Miseducation: decolonising curricula, culture and pedagogy in UK universities, published HEPI in July 2020, and has just completed a master's in US History at Balliol College, Oxford, and graduated with a BA in History from Oxford in 2019. Her research specialism is queer history. She has held a variety of access roles and was previously Co-Chair of Common Ground Oxford, a student movement challenging systemic racism and classism and advocating for decolonisation. Mia is committed to tackling educational inequality and now works as London Programme Officer at CoachBright, a social mobility organisation dedicated to educational equity for disadvantaged young people.


Nighet Riaz
Programme Advisor - Scotland, Advance HE (Specialist Insight / Link to Main Race project)

Nighet Riaz Picture FrameNighet leads the race equality project at Advance HE, launched in response to the EHRC report on racial harassment. She is an associate lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), teaching on the topic of equality and inclusion. Nighet is an active member of the British Educational Research Association, where she co-convenes the Special Interest Group on Race, Ethnicity and Education. She is also a training and development partner in the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE), a member of the education subgroup of the ‘Tackling Islamophobia’ cross party group at Holyrood, and the Equality Officer at her local SNP branch.


Dr Catriona Bell
Head of Membership (Scotland) and Senior Advisor (Learning and Teaching)

Catriona Bell Picture FrameCatriona is the key strategic liaison between Scottish institutions and Advance HE, and leads the development, planning and delivery of Advance HE’s Scottish National Priorities Programme. She joined Advance HE in February 2019 and brings more than 20 years of experience working as an academic in Scottish universities (latterly as a Reader in Veterinary Education). She is a qualified veterinary surgeon who has particular expertise in learning and teaching, becoming a Principal Fellow (PFHEA) in 2015 and a National Teaching Fellow (NTF) in 2018.


Melanie Smith
Policy and Programmes Adviser - Scotland, Advance HE (Project Lead)

Melanie Smith Picture FrameMelanie joined Advance HE in December 2020 to lead the anti-racist curriculum project. With a background in widening participation, she has thirteen years' experience in leading transformative widening access and student support programmes led by a personal and professional conviction in social inclusion and the life-changing nature of educational opportunity. Having worked in both the College and University sector, Melanie brings extensive experience of the Scottish tertiary sector, stakeholder engagement, partnership working and co-creation. Melanie is also a qualified coach with years of mentoring experience, as well as designing and delivering professional development and training around widening participation and equality & diversity.

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Working Groups

The Anti-Racist Curriculum (ARC) Project comprises four working groups with a total of 24 members, covering the following areas:

  • Language Matters
  • Current Practices
  • Curriculum Considerations
  • Student and Staff Experience

Profiles for members in the working groups can be accessed via the link below.

See the working group members
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Note on terminology

We have chosen to use the terms Black, Asian and minority ethnic in full and not in acronym. This decision was made to reflect the sector’s widespread use of the term BAME whilst acknowledging the limitations of the term and widespread frustration at the reductionism of the acronym itself. We also refer to individuals with ‘lived experience’ in recognition of the daily impact of being ‘racialised minorities’ in Scotland and the wider UK. These choices are not intended to suggest that people of colour are a homogenous group. We recognise that race terminology continues to be a contentious and fast-moving issue when discussing ARC and encourage individual further study and reflection in this area. There is no definitive answer nor perfect term to use and while we advocate that language (very much) matters in ARC and is an important discussion to have, continued forward progress is of equal importance. Therefore we encourage that the terminology debate not hinder, but rather complement and embody the wider work at hand. Where possible, respect people’s individual preferences and offer options to self-describe. When it comes to your own institution deciding on terminology, we recommend that a thorough research and consultation process is undertaken. Involving your staff and wider communities, most importantly those with lived experience, will be key to this process and enable everyone to move forward with confidence and a collective rationale of the terms adopted.

Further reading

Advance HE, Use of language: race and ethnicity (online) Available from:  (Last accessed 19th August 2021)

D’Clark, RS (2018) Bame is Lame (weblog) Shades of Noir. 11th October Available from: (Last Accessed 19th August 2021)

Higher Education Research Action Group (HERAG) (2021) Beyond BAME (Black and Asian Minority Ethnic): in search of a new category (webinar) Available from: 30th June (Last accessed 19th August 2021)

Iroanya, V (2020) Dear White People: We really hate the term BAME so stop using it (article) The Tab. Available from: (Last Accessed 19th August 2021)

Singh, G (2021) Stimulus Paper: Beyond BAME: Rethinking the politics, construction, application, and efficacy of ethnic categorisation Available from: April (Last accessed 19th August 2021)