Tackling Racial Harassment in Higher Education: Our response to the UUK report

A message to staff and students

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Universities UK has published a report on Tackling Racial Harassment in Higher Education.  We welcome the report and, along with our action plan to address the Equality and Human Rights Commission report Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged, wewill use it to continue to work hard to achieve a culture which is truly anti-racist.  Both reports highlight the sector-wide prevalence of racism, whether systemic or manifested in microaggressions and, as part of that sector, we will put in place actions so that we tackle barriers to inclusion.

We acknowledge that there have been times in our history when we, as a University, have fallen short and we are aware that we have much more to do to ensure race equality.  We are fully committed to our vision to create an inclusive culture which celebrates the diversity of our staff and students. In recognising that this diversity brings new and engaging perspectives and enriches the experience of all who work, study and visit the University, we will continue to take a proactive approach to embedding and mainstreaming an anti-racist culture so that each and every person in our community feels that they belong in the University. 

We have already taken steps to lay the foundations for our race equality work.  Inclusion has been identified as a strategic priority in Aberdeen 2040 – integrating it as one of our Strategic Themes. We have signed up to Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter as well as the British Medical Association’s Racial Harassment Charter, and we have also established a Race Equality Strategy Group to drive progress to translate these priorities into tangible change. In addition to this we are in the process of establishing a university-wide steering group that will develop a programme of work on decolonising the curriculum. We also have a number of actions in progress which include: investment in race equality training to be rolled out across the University in 2021; actions to ensure that all staff and students know how to report a race-related incident and can do so with confidence and with support; the appointment of Race Equality Champions in every School and Directorate; and the development of a race equality strategy through University-wide consultation with support from Advance HE.  The University and AUSA will continue to work together to drive progress on race equality, joining up closely with internal groups such as the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Students’ Forum, the Race Equality Network and the Race Equality Strategy Group.  In the New Year the University will be linking closely with local race equality organisations, including the Grampian Regional Equality Council and the Ethnic Minority Forum, as well as working with sectoral and national networks.  In addition to this we will also continue to work closely with NHS Grampian to share experiences and to take forward actions which will be of benefit to both organisations.

This UUK report has highlighted that we have much work to do. Our vision is for our University to have a truly inclusive anti-racist culture, and we will, with the involvement of our staff and students, continue to work with energy, vigour and determination to achieve this.  

Best wishes

George, Cecilia, Ruth, Bhatty


George Boyne
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Cecilia Wallback
AUSA Student President

Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal for Education
Senior Race Champion and co-convener of the Race Equality Strategy Group

Siladitya Bhattacharya
Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
Senior Race Champion and co-convener of the Race Equality Strategy Group