Letter: Stop stress and disadvantage 2

November 23, 2001

I agree that "it's a painful time to be in the minority" (Features, THES , November 16), especially when minority ethnic student numbers are rising and widening participation strategies abound, yet race discrimination has not noticeably decreased. There is nothing worse than having one's hopes raised and dashed.

Many parents from minority ethnic backgrounds instil in their children the notion that a university education is the best way to escape the poverty and discrimination they faced. The reality is that there are probably more black and minority ethnic graduates working in shops or in low-grade white-collar jobs than in permanent employment in universities.

Widening participation is more than allowing greater access to the bottom rung of a few inner-city institutions. It is about valuing minorities' experiences from the top as well as the bottom of higher education institutions. Only when minority ethnic staff and students are active at all levels of university life will they be truly participating. Anything else is rhetoric.

William Ackah
Lecturer in race equality studies
Edge Hill College of Higher Education

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