Race for equality

Tuesday 14-05-2019 - 12:40

As we begin our new extensive research into the experiences of Black students in education, we reflect on how NUS Black Students’ Campaign has led the discussion on race equity and made gains in the sector plus how our new research can drive change on your campuses too.

2011’s Race for Equality was a piece of research on the experiences of Black students at our institutions and it made a huge impact on the discussions around race and post-compulsory education. While we’re running a follow-up to the research, starting with a survey that’s open right now, let’s look at some of the ways NUS has used this research to secure wins with students of colour! 


Race for Equality – bringing race back on the agenda 

In 2007 the Department for Education commissioned a key study to prove that institutions disadvantaged Black students regardless of their backgrounds or prior attainment, putting race and attainment on the agenda. By 2011, however, race was off again, overshadowed by a consumer marketized approach to our institutions. Race for Equality has been key to NUS bringing back race on the agenda, and the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 included equalities as a key area of work for the new Office for Students. Since then Race for Equality has also provided key information to help us to lobby the government on freedom of speech and no platform, and in our work against the discriminatory Prevent programme. 


Race for Equality – paving the way for an intersectional approach to access and participation 

The Office for Students recently incorporated race and disability into its work on access and participation at institutions. Using our findings from the report NUS advocated that race equity can’t be pulled apart from class, and liberation needs to be achieved collectively: Race for Equality helped us to shape this next step towards a truly intersectional approach to liberating our institutions.  


Race for Equality – making the conversation around structural oppression 

Our institutions, both colleges and universities, have long behaved as if Black students bring into their education their own disadvantage, and refused to engage meaningfully with the concept that institutions and society oppressed Black students and systematically disadvantaged them. While data has become compelling in this area, it is the Black students’ voices, woven throughout Race for Equality, that have been instrumental to driving the urgency of the discussion. 


Eight years later we have the opportunity to advance these discussions and push the sector to double down on its commitment to tackle racial inequality. We won’t just do this nationally, we want to help you advocate at a local level too…


Unions that are able to gain 100 respondents from their students to the Black students’ campaign survey will receive this anonymised data. This is a great opportunity for unions to advocate on issues relating to race equity in their institution. 


In your union – bring a rigorous and comparable study to your institution 

Looking through examples of how we’ve already affected changed, it is clear that Race for Equality is well respected within the sector. This updated set of data will allow NUS to look at how the situation has changed for Black students over the last eight years and during some of the most sweeping changes to both further and higher education. It can help you highlight students of colour’s experiences of racism, structural and cultural barriers their institutions put in the way of their study. And if you secure over 100 respondents, you can compare your students’ responses to the national study. 


In your union – bring a real Black student voice to attainment work 

The research isn’t just about statistics: it’s about student voice. We will be conducting focus groups and interviews, in addition to the qualitative responses that Black students are asked to give as part of the research. This Black student voice is essential to driving change in the institution – and as a reminder to our institutions and leaders that tackling race inequities isn’t a dry subject, but the reality lived for their students on a day-to-day basis. This study will help you bring those voices to where they need to be. 


Complete the survey on Black students’ experiences in education now

Promote the survey on your own materials using our QR code




Black, Campaigns

Related Tags :

More NUS Connect Articles

More Articles...