The UK’s unis are institutionally racist, admits uni Vice-Chancellor

Well there’s a surprise

The UK’s universities are institutionally racist, the Vice-Chancellor of UEA has admitted.

“There’s a lot of evidence that points towards universities perpetuating systemic racism,” Professor David Richardson – who also leads a national body looking into racism in universities – told the BBC.

“Historically, students who have experienced racial harassment, have not felt able to report it or felt safe to report it,” he added.

The comments were made as Richardson spoke to the BBC as part of a documentary – Is Uni Racist? – investigating racism on campus.

Richardson leads Universities UK’s advisory group on racial harassment. In November, the group told universities across the country to do better at tackling racism.

“Perhaps governing bodies were concerned about the reputational impact of the university being seen to be a place which was institutionally racist,” Richardson said. “Five years ago university leaders would not have called this out.”

Across a five year period from 2015 to 2019, 393 students in the UK were disciplined by their uni for racism. The Tab revealed last year that universities are still using fines to punish racist students – with penalties averaging just £62 at the University of Nottingham.

Yet a report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission found that a quarter of students have experienced racial harassment at uni.

11 universities told the BBC they had received no complaints of racism in a five year period.

Richardson said it was “disappointing” students are put off reporting because of fears over their grades and career. “We need to acknowledge that, and put in place better support to make them feel safe and to help them be reassured that this will not damage grades at all,” he said.

He also admitted that many students are not being told about outcome of racism complaints they’ve made, because of universities’ fears over data protection.

BBC Three’s Is Uni Racist? is available now to watch on iPlayer and will also air tonight at 10.45pm on BBC One.

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