Universities: Racial Discrimination

Department for Education written question – answered on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that universities investigate all complaints made by students and staff about racism at universities.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Racial harassment is unacceptable and we cannot tolerate staff and students being victims of it at our world-leading universities. There is no place in our society - including within higher education (HE) – for hatred or any form of harassment, discrimination or racism. Universities have clear responsibilities in this regard.

HE providers in England are independent and autonomous. They are responsible for addressing student complaints and for meeting their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. The government expects providers to discharge their responsibilities fully and have robust policies and procedures in place to handle student complaints, comply with the law and to investigate and swiftly address incidents reported to them.

Where a student complaint cannot be resolved through the institution’s complaint processes, the student can ask for their complaint to be reviewed by the Office for the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for HE in England. As a result of the government‘s recent HE reforms, all HE providers on the HE Regulator’s register, the Office for Students (OfS), are required to join the OIA.

The government will continue to work closely with partners, including Universities UK and the OfS, to drive progress on matters of racial harassment in HE.

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