Fewer than 20 per cent of University of Glasgow’s staff complete anti-racism training

Of the 18.8 per cent of staff completed the training, 77.5 per cent were white

Less than one in five Glasgow University staff members have completed anti-racism training.

Of the 18.8 per cent of staff completed the training, 77.5 per cent were white, Glasgow Guardian reports.

These findings follow the publishing of the report “Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures”, where over 50 per cent of non-white students surveyed had experienced racial harassment at the university.

To remedy this, the University of Glasgow offered their staff a “Let’s Talk About Race in the Workplace” training to address racial sensitivity and cultural awareness.

The report surveyed responses from 500 ethnic minority students, finding that over 250 had experienced racism between two and five separate occasions. Additionally, one in 20 students experienced more than 20 instances of racial harassment.

Alongside interpersonal racism, the report also found evidence of structural disadvantage, highlighting a degree awarding gap favouring white students. In 2018, ethnic minority students were significantly disadvantaged, being 10.7 per cent less likely to graduate with high honours than their white peers.

Although this gap is undergoing analysis in the action plan, this will not be completed before the next academic year, indicating that non-white students will face another year of racially motivated disadvantage.

The Glasgow Guardian’s investigation also highlighted the general decrease of staff on fixed-term contracts but an increase in non-white staff employed under fixed-term contracts. This discrepancy is indicative of heightened insecure employment among BAME staff.

Between 2021 and 2023, there was a 15 per cent increase in the employment of non-white staff members under fixed-term contracts. When questioned on this disproportionate amount of ethnic minority staff on fixed-term contracts, the university claimed it “has been working for a considerable period to ensure that all staff are employed on responsible contractual arrangements.”

The investigation further highlights a pattern of under-reporting from victims of racial harassment due to fears of inappropriate requital and response from the university. As of 2023, staff have reported just eight incidents of racism, and students have reported nine since the publication of the 2021 report.

As well as non-white students facing racial harassment from their fellow students, surveyed students also highlighted micro-aggressions from staff members, such as inappropriate passing comments and being ethnically segregated when grouped. Students reported a feeling of despair when met with “sorry” emails from staff after reporting their discomfort and experiences of racial harassment.

Aamar Anwar tweeted that while he was the rector – from 2017 to 2020 – the university’s attitude towards addressing racism was “tokenistic,” possibly accounting for the inconsistency between instances of racism and reporting. Furthermore, this “tokenistic” behaviour could also elucidate the inordinate completion of anti-racism training from white staff, with few tangible efforts constructed to remedy this discrepancy.

As for the next steps for UofG, the university released an updated 2023 Action Plan regarding anti-racism progress. This plan includes the launching of a racial equality/anti-racism campaign, anti-racism training sessions delivered to 700 Estates and Commercial Services Directorates colleagues, a “decolonising of the curriculum” strategy built into UofG’s 2021-2025 Learning and Teaching Strategy, and a few other vague claims. 

A University spokesperson told the Glasgow Guardian: “Harassment of any kind is not tolerated at the University; the safety and security of our students and colleagues is our top priority. The university is strongly committed to providing a working environment where all staff feel valued and are treated fairly and with respect. In partnership with trade union colleagues, the university has been working for a considerable period of time to ensure that all staff are employed on responsible contractual arrangements.”

The Tab Glasgow further contacted the University of Glasgow to ask about the university’s next steps in combatting racism, although they refused to comment on the matter.

In the meantime, the university has continued to pursue its Together Against Racism campaign, aiming to decrease racism as a whole on campus.

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