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Strengthening our inclusive and diverse NTU community

Read Vice-Chancellor, Professor Edward Peck’s statement about the action NTU is taking to improve its knowledge, understanding and approach to racial equality.

City campus

At NTU we are proud to be a progressive and inclusive university. We stand wholeheartedly in opposition to racism.

The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was abhorrent. It brought home to me with enormous force that racism still thrives in societies across the world, across the UK and, inevitably therefore, across large institutions like NTU.

But it is not enough for me to say this event was abhorrent. It is not enough for me to say Black Lives Matter. What matters is what we all choose to do next.

As Vice-Chancellor of a large organisation, with so many colleagues and students for me to consult, help, influence and educate, it is imperative that I am leading actions that back up my words.

What are we doing within NTU to tackle racism?

From the start of my time at NTU, I have made delivering equality of opportunity and outcome one of the standards by which I want the University and myself to be judged.

We are already making real progress with our Success for All programme. We are making great strides in improving the numbers of black students being awarded 1sts and 2.1s. We are removing the disparity in access to graduate jobs between our black students and our white students; overall, there is now no difference based on racial group in the percentage of our students who go onto graduate level work or study when they leave NTU.

We embarked on the decolonisation of our syllabus five years ago. Our active and collaborative approach to teaching has been shown to improve outcomes for black students. Over 60% of our undergraduate courses now include this approach and we have a University-wide programme to increase adoption.

In conjunction with our partners at Nottingham Trent Students’ Union, we have launched the Black Leadership Programme. This initiative aims to empower a new generation of black leaders.

Over 20% of our professoriate is from BAME communities, twice the average for a UK university; but this is not good enough. I have piloted personally a mentoring scheme where I support BAME colleagues to advance their promotional and development goals. We are now reviewing the pilot to make sure it was of mutual benefit and then we will roll it out further.

I have committed my University Executive Team, my most senior leaders at NTU, to undertake training in white privilege. We are a white leadership team which we accept is to our detriment. We are reviewing our recruitment processes and our talent pipeline to deliver major improvements in the diversity of senior colleagues. This will take time. I am suggesting to our Board of Governors that we set a challenging five-year target to improve diversity amongst NTU’s leadership.

I have opened up dialogue with our Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage staff network, representatives from our Black Leadership Programme and direct with any student or colleague who has raised concerns with me on this issue. I am listening and I am ready to learn.

Our commitment to improving racial equality at NTU is demonstrated most recently by our signing up to the Advance HE Race Equality Charter.

This is a standard that we will use to examine and address racial inequality at NTU. We cannot rush this; we are engaging in a meaningful and arduous process as we must be sure it makes the positive and sustainable impact that we need. We will be thorough and work collaboratively with colleagues and students, so that together we begin to see the improvements that we all want to see as they emerge.

We will all be required to look at what investment we need to make in our own development and education. We will need to increase further the diversity of our curriculum, to examine our recruitment policies, and, crucially, to listen. Listen to those who have lived experience, listen to BAME colleagues and students to understand what changes we need to make. We will be stronger and more united as a result.

How are we supporting students to tackle racism?

At NTU we do not tolerate racism from colleagues or students. Where matters of misconduct are reported to us, we act swiftly and we investigate fully.

In the last two weeks we have had reported to us a number incidents of student behaviour involving alleged racism. This is both depressing and encouraging: depressing in that BAME students have had to experience activities that they found unacceptable; and encouraging in that they had the confidence in our processes that they judged it worth making a complaint. We started investigating all of these immediately.

Often these incidents are discussed publicly on social media by members of our NTU community. On occasions the University, and sometimes me personally, are asked to condemn behaviour before it has been investigated. I understand the anger that drives these requests. I hope you understand that we cannot pre-empt the outcome of our complaints process before it has run its course. Furthermore, it is not appropriate for us to share publically the outcome of each investigation, although we endeavour to inform the complainant as fully as possible. However, from next academic year we will make public an annual anonymised summary of the number and nature of complaints concerning racism and the outcome of the subsequent investigation. In the meantime, I want to be clear that students have been excluded from the University for racist behaviour during my time as Vice-Chancellor at NTU. Let me reiterate: we do not tolerate racism.

Due to COVID-19, we will be approaching our next academic year a little differently. This presents us with an opportunity to consider how to improve and strengthen every element of the NTU offer. We are reviewing the mandatory training and development required of all students and colleagues; as part of this we are considering including compulsory modules on unconscious bias and white privilege.

Our students have a number of avenues available to them to be heard as well as making formal complaints: direct to their academic representatives on their course; through their Students' Union; or through our ‘Your Voice Has’ campaign. We will continue to listen, actively listen, so we can better understand how to bring about real change within our community.

We all have a part to play in tackling racism. I will continue to use my position as Vice-Chancellor to drive improvements and to listen to the voices of our BAME students and colleagues.

Professor Edward Peck
Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University

Strengthening our inclusive and diverse NTU community

Published on 11 June 2020
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