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Addressing race inequality and racism

08 Jul 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE responds to an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, highlighted in The Guardian (7 July) and other media

Alison Johns, Chief Executive, Advance HE said:

“I am grateful that the authors copied Advance HE into their open letter to the Secretary of State for Education and other sector bodies yesterday.

“We acknowledge and that there is much more to do to redress the long-term systemic lack of understanding and therefore action to improve the culture and environment for BAME colleagues and students. I’m confident that the Sector readily accepts this too – that’s certainly what we hear and see in our engagement with institutions. At the same time, I see an increased commitment and fast-emerging sense of urgency to drive forward cultural and environmental change.

“Advance HE works with the sector and others to do this in a number of ways, not least through the Race Equality Charter (REC). We offer a range of support including training on race equality, which covers institutional racism, white privilege and power and addressing racial microaggressions. We also support the sector with research and insights to inform its work. We have a focus on integrating this work across everything we do, so our governance, leadership and teaching and learning activity can support our members to move this agenda forward, delivering change and impact.

“The REC provides a framework for institutions to identify and self-reflect on institutional and systemic barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students, so that they can take action. One of the REC principles highlights that minority ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group and that people from different ethnic backgrounds have different lived experiences. Accordingly, through the REC, we encourage institutions to disaggregate data and take action where issues are identified on promotions, pay, representation on senior decision-making committees amongst other areas. To continue to improve the REC, we are taking the REC through a planned review, to ensure its fitness for purpose and we will be speaking more about this later this week.

“While all this work is positive, the pace and effort to address racial inequalities clearly needs to be accelerated, and it must be prioritised. We all need to acknowledge where we have gaps and shortcomings – this includes looking at ourselves as well, no organisation is above reproach.

“Racism and racial inequality are totally unacceptable. We believe that we, along with the sector, have a leadership role in society, and we need to be resolute in putting these injustices right.”



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