Our recommendations: Racially diverse and inclusive communities
Universities need to push harder to create university-wide change so that the work universities are doing to create inclusive communities is fully reflected in students’ experiences.
This is because if students don’t feel a sense of belonging at their universities, their experiences at university and the grades they’re awarded for their degrees can suffer.
Universities need to do more to make sure all staff are accountable for actively contributing to creating inclusive cultures.
While universities are doing work in the long term to improve staff diversity, they need to do more in the immediate term to improve students’ access to diverse role models, and to encourage BAME students to do postgraduate study and improve the diversity of academic pipelines.
For example, universities could:
- draw on existing guidance, such as Race in the workplace: the McGregor-Smith review
- support the academic pipeline through mentoring and coaching for postgraduate and early career researchers
- use alumni networks as mentors and speakers
- invite external speakers and experts for guest lectures, employability discussions, events, debates, etc.
- support students’ access to specialist services and networks, such as the Black, African and Asian Therapy Network
What’s changed since 2019?
Universities are taking on a range of activities to develop more diverse and inclusive environments, including anti-racism training for university staff, looking at recruitment practices to enhance diversity, and developing inclusive learning environments.
For this work to connect with the lived experiences of BAME students, the next step is making sure inclusive practices are consistently put into place across universities.
Universities need to focus as much on the culture outside the classroom as the culture inside it. They should make sure accommodation, catering services and social events factor in the needs of diverse groups. Universities also need to work on increasing students’ access to diverse role models in the immediate term and to support BAME students to go into postgraduate study and academia.
The percentage of academic staff with a known ethnicity who were BAME in 2020/21.
The percentage of students who were BAME in 2020/21.
What did university staff say?
- All of those who responded to our survey said they are reviewing or changing recruitment practices to improve the diversity of staff.
- Only a third (33%) said their universities have made student equality issues, such as ethnicity awarding gaps, a formalised part of staff performance reviews or developing conversations. 25% are planning to do this in the future.
- Universities are doing some work to encourage BAME students into postgraduate study or academia, most commonly through:
- fee reductions (54%)
- targeted information, promotion or guidance (53%)
- employability initiatives throughout the curriculum (44%)
- mentoring schemes (40%)