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Universities: Racial Discrimination

Question for Department for Education

UIN 275679, tabled on 10 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of reports of racism against students and staff in UK universities in the last five years.

Answered on

15 July 2019

The government takes all forms of hate crime extremely seriously. There is no place in our society - including within higher education – for hatred or for any form of harassment, discrimination or racism.

The government is working closely with Universities UK (UUK) and the Office for Students (OfS) to support work to address racism and other forms of harassment in higher education, including the implementation of UUK’s Taskforce recommendations. The government has also tasked the OfS to support this work, and over £2 million has been invested in projects tackling hatred and harassment.

The department regularly meets stakeholders and representative bodies about student experience issues including racism, hate crime and harassment. Officials hold quarterly meetings with the OfS and UUK to discuss how to make progress on harassment and hate crime, including racism within the sector. In addition, I have recently held meetings with the Union of Jewish Students and Jewish student representatives about antisemitism on campus.

The government expects providers to keep records of incidents disclosed to them and to act swiftly to investigate and address them. It is important to recognise that under-reporting is common. Higher education providers should look at how they can continue to break down barriers to reporting, in spite of the potential for it to lead to spikes in disclosures, and to make sure that students and staff feel safe and able to disclose racist incidents.

Evaluation to date has shown that progress has been made but that there is still more to do. On 7 January 2019; I wrote to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to welcome their Inquiry into Racial Harassment in Higher Education Institutions. I look forward to the new evidence that this inquiry will bring and will review its findings carefully.

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