University of Cambridge’s new Black Advisory Hub launches online today

The online space will provide ‘support of new and current Black students at the University’

The Black Advisory Hub is being launched by the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning  (CCTL) today (14/05).

This initiative is part of the University’s Access and Participation Plan: Participatory Action Research (APP PAR) Project, which involves CCTL and 18 student co-researchers, and began at the start of the 2019-20 academic year. The project aims to identify the “specific barriers and practices that impact the educational experience and attainment of Black British students and disabled students with mental health conditions.”

According to the CCTL website, the Hub will be an online space providing “support of new and current Black students at the University”, and will “introduce ideas for future initiatives to help make Cambridge a more inclusive and supportive environment.”

Tyra Amofah-Akardom, one of the three student co-researchers of the Advisory Hub project, wrote in a blog post: “More often than not, Black students rely on word-of-mouth or student-led initiatives like the African Caribbean Society (ACS) and the BME Campaign, which focus on social and/or activist matters.

“What is missing, we felt, is a centrally coordinated space where relevant education information for Black students is collated, such as resources, academic support, event information, and opportunities such as internships and scholarships.”

Tyra explained how the creation of the Hub is also a response to the “fragmented nature of the University”, with so many Colleges and Faculties, which Tyra said creates issues for all students, but particularly Black students, when it comes to “locating support that addresses their particular needs and perspectives.”

Tyra also identified that some places within Cambridge have such a “lack of diversity” that individual Black students are “incredibly isolated”: “[F]or Black students in predominantly White spaces such as Cambridge, accessing help may be especially complicated, particularly as Black students have so few Black staff and mentors to turn to.”

They hope that the Hub will hopefully provide a solution to the lack of “local support structures” for Black students within the colleges and faculties.

In addition to its role for students, the creators believe that the Hub could be used to “provide staff with resources about anti-racist pedagogies, inclusive teaching and learning, and critical race theory.”

The process of developing the Hub has included focus groups, surveys of students, and consultations with the Head of the Equality and Diversity Unit. The Hub will be different from similar projects at other universities as it will provide “both pastoral and academic support specifically for Black British students.”

Description of the launch event in a Facebook status

Photo Credit: Cambridge SU BME Campaign via Facebook

The launch event will take place at 7 PM this evening (14/05) and is open to all staff and students. The event includes a showcase of the Hub and new initiatives, a chance to hear from the student co-creators, and a Q&A with Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope. To attend the launch, follow this link to register.

The University Press Office has been contacted for comment.

Feature image credit: George Ellison