Racism against students ‘taken more seriously than staff abuse’

Equality and Human Rights Commission data show staff complaints take longer to investigate and are less likely to lead to redress

October 30, 2019
Source: Getty
Lack of support universities ‘oblivious’ to scale of racism problem, says EHRC

Academics have accused universities of taking racial harassment of students more seriously than abuse of staff, after a report laid bare the prevalence of racism in the UK sector.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission accused institutions of being “oblivious” to the scale of the problem after its report, Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged, found that, although racism is widespread in higher education, victims rarely reported it because they had little confidence that it would be taken seriously.

However, quantitative data published alongside the main report suggest that complaints made by staff were even less likely to lead to sanctions against the alleged perpetrator.

EHRC surveys, based on data from 318 staff and 491 students, found that only 17 per cent of staff complaints had been upheld and had led to redress of some sort. This compared with 38 per cent of student grievances.

Forty-two per cent of staff complaints had been investigated but not upheld, compared with 27 per cent of student cases.

Data collected from around 100 universities also indicated that student complaints were resolved more quickly. Thirty-two per cent of student complaints were resolved within a month, compared with just 9 per cent of staff grievances. Thirty-one per cent of staff cases took between three and six months to process, compared with 15 per cent of student complaints. Nineteen per cent of staff cases dragged on for more than six months – compared with only 13 per cent of student complaints.

Nelarine Cornelius, professor of organisation studies at Queen Mary University of London, said that the government-backed push to widen access to higher education meant that there was “a focus on the numbers of [black and ethnic minority] students getting into university and their progress once they are there”.

“You are also less likely to see BAME staff in senior positions,” Professor Cornelius said. “So the likelihood of somebody being able to sponsor or counsel or defend a junior member of staff who is also BAME is less likely.”

The university data showed that 83 per cent of staff who reported being victims of racism were junior or middle-ranking. Only 7 per cent of complainants were in senior positions.

Staff victims were most likely to say that their abuser was a senior member of staff, with this accounting for 32 per cent of cases.

Kalwant Bhopal, professor of education and social justice at the University of Birmingham, said that this had a knock-on effect on the complaints process.

“When BME academics report racism, this is simply dismissed by managers as a clash of personalities and not taken seriously. In these cases, the victims become the villains,” she said. “Consequently, a failure to acknowledge racism results in a failure to act upon it.”

Four-fifths of staff who reported being victims of racism told the EHRC that it was part of a pattern of repeated harassment. About three in 20 said that it had caused them to leave their jobs, with many more saying that they had considered it.

Nicola Rollock, reader in equity and education at Goldsmiths, University of London, said that universities “do not understand the damaging consequences of constantly being undermined and devalued on account of one’s race. This, in turn, affects our success in higher education and our mental health and well-being.”

She added: “If universities do not understand race and racism, it stands to reason that this failure will also be reflected in any policies including their complaints procedures.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Racism against staff ‘not taken seriously enough’

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Reader's comments (6)

I take no issue with this piece - but perhaps extend to the other protected characteristics - disability, sexual orientation, etc.....Making the point only in relation to a single issue diminishes the bigger picture - there is a deep lack of tolerance amongst students and staff, in my experience against staff more than students.
“....Making the point only in relation to a single issue diminishes the bigger picture ...” rather I would say making the point in relation to the “bigger picture” diminishes the ”single issues ”. “Single issues“ tend to get lost or watered down when cast as part of a big bag of plaintive concerns; inside that mixed bag, the racist for instance may be allowed escape from the monocrop issue of racism in ostensible preference for another monocrop like gender. with a one crop bag , he can run but can’t hide from the bag . Basil jide fadipe.
Perhaps we should take a step back and instead try to inculcate an ethos of politeness and respect irrespective of 'protected characteristics' - whilst those are important, issues can also arise related to intolerance of opinions different to your own, and that's what a university is all about: debate of opinions. If we cannot discuss ideas respectfully and politely we are failing in our primary purpose, and students need to learn this.
But that is the issue. Stepping back is not a good idea as you will be stepping into the era of colonialism and slavery. The Equality Act 2010 should be implemented to include consequences and EHRC should be given the power to take action against organisations.
I have commented on this before - the reason why student complaints are addressed more fervently than academic staff complaints is that student complaints impact on student satisfaction and retention, which impacts on university rankings. University rankings are not affected by staff satisfaction. Until it does, university management will not put in as much effort in addressing staff welfare as compared to student welfare.
As a student is more humiliated being racis. However Totojitu agen togel online Senior4D, try to be neutral on this kind of situation. Maybe just missunderstanding between teacher and student

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