Racism at Oxford? Hardly, claim staff

February 18, 2010

Staff at the University of Oxford believe "very little needs to be done" to promote racial equality, despite half of their students claiming to have experienced racism.

More than 1,000 members of staff and 885 students responded to a race-equality survey. A summary of the results, posted on Oxford's website, says: "Generally the staff group felt adamant that Oxford was based on a culture of meritocracy; things were working well and very little needs to be done in this area."

Of 450 people who provided the most detailed responses, 34 per cent said that no further work was needed on racial equality.

In addition, 8 per cent made negative comments about Oxford's Black History Month celebrations, saying they "drew attention to race", making it "an issue which it would not be otherwise". Eleven staff members believed positive discrimination was taking place. More than 75 per cent of respondents were white.

Key themes included the perception that the word "race" is "redundant and unnecessary", that racial-equality initiatives are "outdated and old-fashioned" and that Oxford is "happy and diverse".

Undergraduates were polarised on the issue, with half stating that racism rarely occurred and half reporting that they had experienced it.

The latter felt more needed to be done to challenge racist jokes and to integrate black and ethnic-minority students into student societies. They also drew attention to a lack of diversity among tutors and lecturers.

Postgraduates also felt racism was a problem, with one citing "institutional racism" as the reason for a lack of integration between international and British staff and students. Foreigners and ethnic minorities were "ghettoised" in separate accommodation from white British students, they said.

A race equality report based on the survey, which concluded in May 2009, recommends "engaging senior management in cultural sensitivity training" and employing more diverse staff. An action plan includes advertising for posts in "the most relevant UK-based ethnic-specialist media publications".


Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments