Black Lives Matter
Here at the University of Hertfordshire, we stand by and support our black staff and students.
People in the UK and all over the world have taken to the streets to highlight issues faced by black people and called for action to tackle racial injustice.
As a university we cannot repair deeply rooted social and political structures on our own, but we can influence them in higher education. Our role in addressing issues of race and ethnic discrimination is key – the knowledge we produce and share, and the way we operate, can contribute towards achieving the change that is necessary.
We are committed to supporting our black staff and students and pushing for wider change. Here we have provided some useful information and resources to help you learn more about the issues and how to get involved.
- Black students are more likely to engage and participate in their university studies but a larger proportion obtain lower-level degrees and have lower satisfaction (The Independent, Oct 2019).
- In 2016/17, black graduates earned the lowest graduate salaries and experienced the worst graduate outcomes (GOV.UK, Jun 2019).
- There are only 40 black women out of 19,285 UK professors (of which 12,975 are white males, 4,560 white women and 90 black males) (THE, Jun 2020).
- The UK Government has published their 'Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19' report. This shows that the death rates of black men are 3.9 times higher than that of white men, and the death rates of black women 3.3 times higher than that of white women.
- Met police officers were shown to be twice as likely to issue fines to black people over COVID-19 lockdown breaches (The Guardian, June 2020).
- Black boys are more likely to be excluded from school even when engaging in the same disruptive behaviour as their white counterparts (DfES, Sept).
- British citizens with “foreign sounding names” have to send, on average, 60% more job applications to get a positive response from employers compared to their white counterparts (CSI, Jan 2019).
- Young BAME people are more likely to be sentenced to custody than their white peers (Ministry of Justice, Nov 2017).
- Black people are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched (The Guardian, May 2019).
- In 2018/19, 76% of hate crimes in England & Wales were racially motivated (Home Office, Oct 2019).
The University of Hertfordshire holds a Bronze Race Equality Charter award and is currently progressing an extensive action plan. As well, two out of three of the University’s Equality Objectives are focused on race:
- Increase the number of black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff at UH9 (senior leadership roles) and above to 16% and teaching staff to 25%
- To eliminate the attainment gap between white and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, reducing this gap by 50% in the next five years
Our overall BAME staff community (16.5% FTE) is not reflective of the hugely diverse student population (54% BAME). Of this group, 5.1% FTE of staff are from Black ethnic backgrounds (just over half are academics) as compared to 17.7% of students. Of those staff at UH9 and above, BAME individuals account for 13.3% FTE.
We are making changes around where and how we recruit as well as ensuring progression processes are fair and transparent. We are also home to a highly active BAME Staff Network who:
- Support BAME members of staff in their working lives and career progression.
- Promote awareness of BAME issues within the University
- Provide a voice that may influence decision and policy making at senior levels.
- Organise regular meetings and events (e.g. for Black History Month).
The current BAME awarding gap at the University of Hertfordshire is 21%, compared to 13% nationally (UUK, 2019) and this gap is even higher between black and white students. We have put in place a number of targeted initiatives to tackle this gap, including:
- Our Equality Office is working with each School at the University to develop bespoke action plans to reduce the awarding gap. In some Schools, the awarding gap is lower than 10% and in some of our programmes there is no gap. We are using good practice from these areas to inform how we can improve overall as an institution.
- We have BAME advocates, who lead on developing activities for BAME students including workshops and an alumni speaker series. They have changed the conversation at the University around race, racism and white privilege, educating staff and fellow students through sharing lived experiences.
- Our BAME advocates, in collaboration with Widening Access and Student Success and the Schools of Humanities, Education, Law and Business, organise annual BAME careers events. These events provide BAME students with an opportunity to engage with employers, create meaningful contacts and also to learn skills that allow them to stand out in the job market.
- We are working to continue diversifying our curriculum. To support this work, our staff have been provided with curriculum checklists to ensure our teaching content is both inclusive and appropriate.
Be an ally
An ally is someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognise their own privilege and power (based on race, gender, class, sexual identity, etc.) and works in solidarity with marginalised groups in the struggle for social justice. Allyship is an ongoing, lifelong process.
Check out the Rochester Racial Justice Toolkit for further information to help you fully understand what it means to be an ally. As well, the information below, which is drawn from many different sources, will help you better understand examples of actions you can take to combat racism. Although it focuses on ways to support our black colleagues and students, it can also help us to support all BAME individuals within the UH community.
Things you can do as an ally
Resources to explore
- Racial equality in higher education: Is it really one step forward?
- We can feel the promises on race and racism fading already
- White people must commit to antiracist action for the long term
- Don’t let the pandemic overshadow racial inequalities in higher education
- White academics told to support real change on race
- Inclusive teaching is harder then it looks – but there is a way
- White privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack
- White people, here's how we can be better allies and anti-racist
- Why you should stop saying "all lives matter"
- Racial microaggressions in science
- Universities can and should do much more to address systemic racism
- Racial harassment in higher education report (Equality and Human Rights Commission)
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student
Attainment at UK Universities:
#CLOSINGTHEGAP (Universities UK and National Union of Students)
- The white elephant in the
room: ideas for reducing racial
inequalities in higher education (Higher Education Policy Institute)
- Ethnicity and the Postgraduate Student Experience Report (Advance HE)
- Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Available on StudyNet)
- University's Decolonising and Diversifying book list
- Turning Words into Action: Eliminating racism and racial inequality in higher education (Universities UK)
- Black Lives Matter: Taking action to tackle racism across HE, with Amatey Doku (Wonkhe)
- "Allyship" for Race Equality in UK Universities (Dr Arun Verma)
- Dismantling Hegemonies and Anti-Blackness in Higher Education symposium (Brunel University London)
- Tension (Ricardo Barker), a short film centring around institutional racism, unconscious bias and the impact this can have on retention and attainment for BAME students
Support at the University
If you need any support during this time, you can contact the University's Employee Assistance Programme, Student Wellbeing, Advice and Support Centre or the Equality Office. Also check out the following resources for black members of staff and students:
- Black Minds Matter. An organisation which is providing black people in the UK with free therapy with professional black therapists.
- Liberate. A meditation app for black, Indigenous and People of Colour
- Shine. A free WOC (Women of Colour) owned app where you can check in daily, track your mood, receive daily quotes and do meditations etc.
- The Safe Place. An app for mental health resources and self-care tips
- Headspace. Staff and students with an @herts.ac.uk email address can get Spotify and Headspace for only £4.99 a month. Take advantage of this deal here.
We would like to express special thanks to the Hertfordshire Students' Union for providing some of the resources and content for this page.