UK’s first Professor of Black Studies: “The most glaring illustrations of racial inequality in universities is in their staffing”

Kehinde Andrews, the UK’s ‘first Professor of Black Studies’, has recently spoken out against racial inequality in UK universities.

Andrews, a Professor at Birmingham City University, spoke to The Guardian about his view on racial inequality at universities. He shared the statisitic that “just 60 out of the UK’s 14,000 professors are black”.

Andrews recalls a time he himself experienced covert racism when he entered a staff room in his university and was physically removed as they assumed that he was a student instead of a staff member.

“‘Universities produce racism”‘

The persistent questioning by security guards led him to adopt a “dress code” which involved smarter shoes and trousers. He said: “If I have to go into university I will always go home and get changed, just because if I don’t, I will get hassled”.

Talking to The Guardian, Andrews said that “universities produce racism” with a lot of their teachings focusing on “dead white men”.

The National Union of Students stressed this after backing a student campaign which focused on a “white curriculum”, which highlighted “the lack of diversity in the texts assigned to students, prompting discussions within some of the UK’s top universities on the issue”.

“Students from a BME background underachieve by approximately 15% in comparison to white counterparts of the same caliber”

Andrews further says there had been a persistent “attainment gap” between white and non-white students, even among ethnic minorities that tend to perform well at school.

“Something’s happening in those three or four years of education to institute the gap,” he said.

This idea is reiterated by the Black and Minority Ethnics (BME) Network at The University of Nottingham, who said: “The University (and other institutions nationally) are working to close the BME attainment gap: where students from a BME background underachieve by approximately 15% in comparison to white counterparts of the same caliber”.

Nicole Swain, first year of International Media and Communication, told Impact that she hadn’t noticed a lack of diversity of professors in Nottingham: “On our course there are a lot of diverse ethnicities of lecturers, but that just might be because it’s an international course”.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, in 2014/15 there were 198,335 academic higher education staff employed in the UK, 3,020 of whom were Black African and 156,440 of whom were White.

Sarah Lindgärde

Image: via Flickr

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