- 2014 Higher Education Service Group Conference
- 5 November 2013
Conference notes with concern that lack of Black workers within Higher Education. Research carried out by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) noted that only 8.6% of academic staff and 6.9% of support staff self-defined as Black. There are only 2 Black Vice Chancellors in the UK despite there being 168 UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). These worryingly low statistics neither reflect the general population nor the Universities’ student populations.
Conference applauds the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC’s) “One Workplace Equal Rights” equality mentoring programme, which aims to remove barriers to progression for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) workers in the further and higher education sector in Scotland. The aim of the cross institutional initiative is to develop and deliver a mentoring programme for BME staff within the further and higher education sector, and to engage with employers in the education sector to tackle systemic barriers for BME staff. The project will be managed by the STUC’s One Workplace Equal Rights project that supports Scottish trade unions to promote equality and tackle racism in the workplace and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Trade unions will work in partnership with employers and BME staff networks to take the project forward.
While Conference notes the positive contribution this mentoring scheme could potentially make to Black workers in Universities it must be remembered that mentoring will not fundamentally change the situation unless institutional barriers are also dismantled. Conference notes that the recent Equality Challenge Unit report on BME staffs’ experience in higher education in England found that “The research confirms a picture of race discrimination, inequality and underrepresentation, of which BME staff working in higher education will be only too well aware”, and raised concerns about the lack of support for Black staff in many institutions.
Conference therefore calls upon the service group executive to:
1)explore the possibility of working with appropriate partner organisations and institutions to develop similar mentoring schemes across the UK.
2)work with the National Black Members Committee to develop resources to help Branches understand the nuanced nature of modern workplace racism and enable them to work with employers to increase the number of Black staff within HEIs.