Blaming the victims

February 7, 2013

As an equality and diversity consultant of many years’ standing and chair of UK Investor in Equality and Diversity, I read your article on Leeds Metropolitan University academic Jacqueline Stevenson’s research with interest - and growing frustration (“Black students loath to seek aid”, News, 24 January).

My frustration stems from the fact that yet another piece of (limited) research has placed the responsibility for black and minority ethnic academic underachievement on the students themselves (in this case because they “were reluctant to consult lecturers”).

The research goes on to suggest that they are further complicit in this underachievement by, for example, “developing their own support networks”.

BME students reading the findings will be surprised to learn that they are unwilling to voice their concerns and that they act less strategically than their white counterparts.

As someone who has been an equality and diversity consultant supporting students, educators and others for 20 years, I have spent a great deal of time trying to counteract the damaging consequences (particularly to “emerging” BME students) of the type of headline comment coming out of Stevenson’s research. BME learners all too often find themselves trying to engage with lecturers and institutions that are largely indifferent to equality- and diversity-sensitive teaching and learning, and that recognise and value only “academic purity”.

The key responsibility for BME underachievement rests with the university sector’s inability to fully embed the Equality Act 2010 and public sector equality duties within their teaching, learning and management, coupled with a general lack of accountability on this issue. In my view, Stevenson’s research has missed an opportunity to really expose those responsible for BME student underachievement.

Anthony Wilkes
Managing director
Crystal Education and Training Consultants

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy