All white, not all right (1 of 2)

December 22, 2011

The findings of the Equality Challenge Unit's report that you cover under the headline "76% white and male? That's today's UK professoriate" (15 December) should be no surprise to anyone. There have been decades of evidence of systematic discrimination in higher education, yet the sector's leadership - and some staff - just will not support urgent steps to create a level playing field.

Discrimination against women was eventually acknowledged and some steps taken (though not nearly enough). Discrimination against disabled staff is so widespread that it leads to greatly reduced disclosure of disability.

Race discrimination in higher education has been thoroughly evidenced for more than two decades both in respect of access to promotion and treatment. Although every institution has policies aplenty, until there is decisive leadership across the sector, progress will be at no more than a snail's pace at best.

It should not be left to individual black members of staff to challenge their treatment and then be ostracised or worse. The sector has talked about this for two decades.

Will Universities UK take the issue seriously? Not much sign so far.

It is not just an ethical or legal issue. It is a matter of ensuring that ability and talent are rewarded rather than "appointing people like us" without even realising that is what is happening.

Roger Kline, via www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

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