Black and minority ethnic staff face ‘disadvantage’

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Efforts to promote race equality in higher education have petered out and had “little impact”, a conference has heard.

Speaking at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Leeds on 13 April, Andrew Pilkington, professor of sociology at University of Northampton, said the impact of initiatives to encourage race equality in academic recruitment under the Labour government had been “short-lived”.

Efforts to ensure gender equality far outweighed those to eliminate racial discrimination, argued Professor Pilkington, whose books include Institutional Racism in the Academy: A Case Study.

Diversity issues had “fallen down the agenda” in the past decade, he added, while the government now paid only “lip service” to race equality matters.

He quoted from a 2003 report carried out by Gus John, visiting professor of education at the University of Strathclyde, which said that “results suggest that many universities were still struggling to come to terms with what the legislation requires and that they remain on a steep learning curve”.

“Evidence [pointed] to failures in data gathering and target setting, [which] suggests that many universities have not taken equal opportunities policies seriously”, he said.

Picture (homepage): “FBI Classroom“, by billerickson (Flickr)

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