City riot leads to student worries

July 13, 2001

Alison Utley looks at the fall-out from flare-ups in multi-ethnic communities .

Bradford University received calls from anxious parents within hours of the break-out of last weekend's riots in the city.

A statement was hastily issued to reassure prospective students that the disturbances "do not typically reflect the attitude of Bradfordians generally nor the experiences of students studying here".

Reminding people of the university's slogan, "Confronting inequality: celebrating diversity", vice-chancellor Colin Bell expressed his sadness at the scale of the unrest but said he was proud of Bradford's vibrant multicultural campus. A quarter of the university campus population comes from ethnic groups.

Professor Bell pledged his full support to rebuilding community links. "The university is a safe, friendly and welcoming institution," he said. "Bradford has a good reputation on race relations. There has been less trouble generally than in other neighbouring cities although this is often not accurately portrayed. The disturbances have been a major blow but one from which we can, and must, recover."

Professor Bell said: "We have a critical role to play in raising aspirations across the city and the district. We will help in any way we can to help rebuild relations within the community."

At neighbouring Bradford College there was chaos as an external examiner failed to show up on Monday morning following media coverage of street fighting.

Bradford University registrar Nick Andrew said the city had a surreal feel. "It is easy in the short term to overreact but we cannot afford to be complacent. We have to reassure people about their personal safety while encouraging prudent behaviour," he said.

The impact on student recruitment could not be measured yet but Mr Andrew said he would be closely watching the progress of clearing after next month's A-level results.

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