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Advance HE welcomes the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into racial harassment in higher education

23 Oct 2019 | Advance HE Advance HE welcomes the report published today by the EHRC, 'Tackling racial harassment: universities challenged'. The report sets out to understand better the experiences of staff and students who have been subject to racial harassment and how effectively they can seek redress.

Gary Loke, Advance HE Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery, said, “This report, Tackling racial harassment: universities challengedprovides the evidence to further inform and deepen our understanding of racial harassment of staff and students and its impact on mental health and student outcomes. The findings reflects a very mixed picture in the effectiveness of processes for reporting racial harassment in institutions and how effectively reports are dealt with.

“It’s deeply disturbing that victims of racial harassment are reluctant to report incidents. This reluctance compounds the issues in our own findings (1) that mental health difficulties within the higher education sector are also under reported, with a large number of staff and students who are experiencing mental health difficulties not disclosing a ‘mental health condition’ to their institution.

“Through our experience at the Equality Challenge Unit (now part of Advance HE), we know that limited understanding and a lack of confidence in talking about racial harassment are barriers to effective practice and processes in supporting staff and student victims. The sector knows this has to change and the report points to the importance of leadership in tackling racial harassment of staff and students head on.

“Advance HE is very well-placed to support the sector in this work: for example, we offer bullying and harassment audits which provide institutions with invaluable insight into the prevalence and impact of bullying and harassment in their institution, as well as recommendations for how to improve staff perceptions and experiences; our EDI Workshop Series is specifically designed for practitioners, managers and leaders to support positive change in areas such as race equality, challenging and dignity and respect. And all our work is underpinned by the principles set out in the Race Equality Charter. I can’t emphasis enough the value of the Charter as framework through which institutions can work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students.

“We simply can’t allow any form of racial harassment go on in our sector – it’s totally unacceptable. The sector is as one in knowing that we have to deal with it, and we have to do it now.”

Advance HE is also part of this UUK advisory group ‘Tackling racial harassment experienced by students and staff in higher education’ and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure practical guidance and resources are made available to support universities in eradicating racial harassment from campus and that BAME staff and student have confidence in their Institutions reporting process. 

  1. Understanding adjustments: supporting staff and students who are experiencing mental health difficulties

More information about Advance HE EDI events, programmes and conferences:

  • EDI Workshop Series: During 2019-20 we will be running a series of workshops focused on equality, diversity and inclusivity topics to support practitioners, managers and leaders within HE institutions across the UK:

    • Leading Race Equality in Higher Education
    • Challenging privilege and the danger of the single story
    • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Managers
    • Dignity and Respect
    • EDI and the TEF
    • Student pregnancy and maternity.
  • Diversifying Leadership - The programme explores themes of power and influence, demystifying leadership, cultural identity and cultural capital, increasing your visibility and authentic leadership.

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