Call for equality league

September 26, 1997

PUBLIC funding for universities should be linked directly to equal opportunities performance data, a senior law lecturer said this week after five years of race discrimination litigation against Manchester University.

Asif Qureshi accepted a senior lectureship post, with his salary backdated to 1994, after an industrial tribunal remedies hearing late last week. In July this year, the Birmingham tribunal found that he had been discriminated against.

Manchester University is now looking into awarding him a retrospective readership before a second remedies hearing on November 13, which will establish the size of a cash award for injury to personal feelings and loss of earnings.

Vindicated after five years, Dr Qureshi is now calling on the Commission for Racial Equality to investigate the way the university handled the case, and is calling on the Government to consider a funding-linked league table of institutions' equal opportunities data, on the model of the research assessment exercise or teaching quality assessment.

"Vice chancellors only listen to the press, or money," said Dr Qureshi. "So a league table would be an effective way to make sure they are committed to equal opportunities."

Dr Qureshi said that his case is the tip of an iceberg. "I have received many letters from women and ethnic minorities," he said. He insisted that devising criteria for a league table would not be difficult.

"You could monitor the ratio of women and ethnic minorities in a composition of university staff and record what level and position they hold," he said. "There could also be a way of recording the number of allegations made against an institution."

Dr Qureshi also said that there must be a "culture change" to encourage and protect whistle-blowers. "It is wrong to perceive someone like me as a trouble-maker, but it happens and it must be shaken out," he said.

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