The university has committed to signing Advance-HE’s Race Equality Charter. The move was made by Vice Chancellor David Richardson on the last day of Black History Month.
The Equality Challenge Unit, the division of Advance HE responsible for the charter, states that the charter exists to provide ‘a framework through which institutions work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students.’
Additionally, it aims to celebrate the talents and unique identities of ethnic minorities within the university experience, through giving its members the opportunity to implement solutions, apply for an award and progress to different levels. At present, universities such as Anglia Ruskin University, Imperial College London, King’s College London have been awarded Bronze.
The difficulties facing BME students and staff members have been discussed extensively within the student and wider media, with Concrete reporting earlier this year that universities are making slow progress on racial equality in academia.
With regards to students, this year the Guardian revealed that black students alone are one and a half times more likely to drop out of university than their white counterparts. Data collected on the widening gaps in attainment has also found that there is 15.6 percent gap between white students that achieve ‘top degrees’ and their BME counterparts.
‘We are attracting more students from BME backgrounds and we need to ensure that they, as well as staff, have the best experience possible here and fulfil their potential’, said Helen Murdoch, UEA’s Equality and Diversity Committee Secretary.
UEA’s Afro-Caribbean Society now has a membership of over 100, with it’s President Benjamin Joseph-Ebare stating that signing up to the charter is a ‘good step forward for the university’, adding that ‘we are moving in the right direction and I’m hoping there will be more to come.’