Here you can find resources to learn more about race equality, anti-racist practices, decolonising universities, and the steps everyone can take to become an active ally. These resources will support your conversations on race and racism with your fellow students, colleagues, friends, and family members. Self-education is essential to acknowledging the extent of racism in our society and how we can unintentionally perpetuate it, as well as how we can address it and influence change.

For a list of resources on diversity available from the Library, please click here

Antiracism Strategy

You can view the University's Antiracism Strategy 2022-25 document here.

Race Equality Charter

The University of Aberdeen is a signatory to the Advance HE‘s "Race Equality Charter" which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. We are committed to following these five principles of the charter:

  • Racial inequalities are a significant issue within higher education. Racial inequalities are not necessarily overt, isolated incidents. Racism is an everyday facet of UK society and racial inequalities manifest themselves in everyday situations, processes and behaviours.
  • UK higher education cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population and until individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.
  • In developing solutions to racial inequalities, it is important that they are aimed at achieving long-term institutional culture change, avoiding a deficit model where solutions are aimed at changing the individual.
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group. People from different ethnic backgrounds have different experiences of and outcomes from/within higher education, and that complexity needs to be considered in analysing data and developing actions.
  • All individuals have multiple identities, and the intersection of those different identities should be considered wherever possible.
Learn more about race and racism

These resources will help you learn more about race and racism, and how to become anti-racist to support our racialised community members. 

“You cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand.” 

- Layla F. Saad (2020)


Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be An Anti–Racist

Layla F. Saad – Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

Sue Derald Wing – Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race


Peggy McIntosh – White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack

Carmen Morris – Performative Allyship: What Are The Signs and Why Leaders Get Exposed


Baratunde Thurston – How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time

Heather C. McGhee  Racism Has a Cost for Everyone

Reni Eddo-Lodge  Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Decolonising Academia

Decolonising academia refers to understanding that the epistemological framework of British universities is rooted in colonialism, which is Eurocentric, marginalizes knowledge of other geographical and cultural contexts, and aims to present itself as universal. Broadly speaking, decolonising as a process is the changing and rethinking of this framework through challenging this system of knowledge. 

More information


These books discuss the contemporary environment of racial inequality and its challenges to anti-racism; the neoliberal economy, colour blind racism, the history and experience of racism in the UK. 


Race Terminology

Below is a list of definitions of key terms you may find useful.

Race: Racial categorisation schemes were invented by scientists to support worldviews that viewed some groups of people as superior and some as inferior. Race is a made-up social construct (man-made invention), and not an actual biological fact1. A related concept to ‘race’ is ethnicity.

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioural patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base. Examples of different ethnic groups are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American (Black); Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese (Asian); Cherokee, Mohawk, Navaho (Native American); Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican (Latino); Polish, Irish, and Swedish (White).

Racism: Racism is the ideologically based practice of classifying humans into a racial hierarchy which informs, requires and justifies actions and inactions – e.g., by legislators, decision-makers or individuals – that tend to harm people from a Racialised Group background and help white people.

Institutional racism: Institutional (or institutionalised) racism refers to unjust policies, procedures and prevailing social rules that tend to harm or work less well for people from a Racialised Group background and to work in favour of white people.

Structural racism: Structural racism refers to the legacies of historical, cultural, economic, political, legal and psychological arrangements that still today normalise and legitimise racism and racial inequity. It manifests in multiple ways, for example in harmful and false depictions of ‘Black criminality’ in the news and popular culture.

Systemic racism: Systemic racism describes the ways that individual (interpersonal), institutional and structural racism jointly produce relative harms to people from a Racialised Group background and relative help to white people. These systems are so deeply set that to reset them requires fundamental, transformational change.

Microaggression: The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalised group membership2.

Anti-racism: Taking bold, deliberate and conscious action against racial hatred, systemic racism and the unfair treatment of marginalised groups. It also means supporting, encouraging and empowering staff and students to individually recognise racism in all its forms and to actively reject and challenge it.

Race equity: The work of ending racial disparities and breaking the link between life outcomes and ‘race’ or ethnicity. Race equity builds on anti-racism because it focuses on treating people in an appropriate way – not necessarily in the same way – in order to overcome inequitable outcomes.

Racial justice: A vision for a world transformed beyond recognition. It marks a future beyond ‘race’, racial hierarchy, racism and racial inequities, where proactive measures, structures and systems to ensure racial equity are normalised to allow Black and Minoritised and all people to thrive.

Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognise their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways. Allies commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

Reading list - Ruth Taylor, Vice-Principal Education

As we work towards our ambition of creating an anti-racist University, it’s important that we take the time to educate ourselves with as many resources as possible.

Ruth Taylor, Vice-Principal Education, talks us through some of her recent reading and how it helped her to better understand issues of racial inequality.

  • Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race
    Reni Eddo-Lodge

This was one of the first books I read, and it really helped with my understanding of anti-racism and racism. The book addresses areas such as history, feminism, class, white privilege and more, and I’m keen to read this one again.

  • How to argue with a racist
    Adam Rutherford

This book is concise, factual, challenging, informative and clear. I thought that it brilliantly identifies how we are “steered towards views that are not supported by the modern study of genetics” due to experiences and cultural baggage. I found it very enjoyable to read.

  • White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism
    Robin Diangelo

This one talks us through theory and experiences and offers advice, and Diangelo helps us to see how to talk about race and the barriers to those conversations. As the back-cover states, the book “moves our national discussion forward” by exposing “racism in thought and action.”

  • We need new stories: Challenging the toxic myths behind our age of discontent
    Nesrine Malik

This book is focused on contemporary prejudices, looks at our politics, and makes a plea for greater diversity in what Malik sees as a divisive period of history. It asks some great questions of the reader, and there’s good analysis from both a political and historical perspective.

  • White privilege: The myth of a post-racial society
    Kalwant Bhopal

My take home from this book is that we may think that we live in a post-racial society, but of course we do not. It describes the disadvantages and marginalisation in our society and has chapters on higher education, schooling, inequalities, and white privilege.

  • Empireland
    Sathnam Sanghera

This book explains so many things about Britain’s past and its impact on today’s society (and how Britain is in the world). There are plenty of historical references, including a huge bibliography at the end, but also lots of examples of people’s lives and their stories and it was a book I really enjoyed.

  • Access all areas: The diversity manifesto for TV and beyond
    Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder

A short read, this book focuses on television but there are lots of parts that are relevant to a wide range of organisations. The eight-point manifesto for change at the end of the book is interesting and I wonder if this is something we could perhaps create for the University.

  • Navigating institutional racism in British universities
    Katy Sian

This is an excellent book and I was glad to read something that is particularly focused on our sector. The book includes lots of content on creating a race equality strategy and the associated actions and talks about decolonising the curriculum.

  • Natives: Race and class in the ruins of empire

I enjoyed the personal story of this book alongside the theory, as well as the historical and current realities for many people.

  • Washington Black
    Esi Edugyan

A novel about the horrors inflicted on enslaved people on a Barbados plantation. Based on real events, I learnt a lot about the lived experiences of slavery.

  • All the Names Given
    Raymond Antrobus

A book of gorgeous and human poetry, autobiographical in nature, providing insights into all sorts of issues including the lived experience of racism.

  • Towards Decolonising the University: A Kaleidoscope for Empowered Action
    Dave S. P. Thomas and Suhraiya Jivraj

A collection that brings together the process, outcomes and learning from the University of Kent’s Decolonise the University project. Hugely helpful insights.

  • Jews Don’t Count
    David Baddiel

Baddiel argues that there is a hierarchy of racism and antisemitism has been left out. A combination of lived experiences, commentary on our politics, Twitter ‘spats’, and a call to progressives to understand the issues.

  • The Good Ally
    Nova Reid

‘A guided antiracism journey from bystander to changemaker’ which provided information, challenging reflective questions and loved experience. I learnt a lot from reading this book.

  • Nice Racism
    Robin Diangelo

This book is about progressive White people who put barriers in the way of antiracism. Draws on the author’s own experiences and mistakes.

  • Bringing up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World
    Uju Asika

One of our International Women’s Day speakers whose book provides profound insights into how we can bring our kids up happy and kind in our still racist world.

  • The Trader, The Owner, The Slave: Parallel Lives in the Age of Slavery
    James Walvin

This brilliant book tells a story of Atlantic slavery through the loves of three men. Their remarkable writings reveal the devastating costs, the human destruction, and the horror of what humans did to other humans.

  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Today
    Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

An incredible book on America’s racism which brings together the life, ideas and actions of Baldwin, alongside Glaude’s remarkable analysis and his own memories.


Here you can find reports of race equality, institutional racism, and the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students in institutions of higher education.

Publication of Race Equality Charter survey results

16 November 2022

Advisory Content – this communication and attached report contains discussion of racism

Dear Colleagues

We are writing to thank everyone who took part in the Race Equality Charter staff and student surveys, and to share the results of the surveys. 1,318 staff participated, a response rate of 40%, and 605 students participated, a response rate of 4%.

A summary of the results can be found in the report’s Executive Summary and the detailed staff and student responses are in sections 8 and 9 of the report.

The surveys offered the opportunity to share experiences and suggestions about race equality in the University.

The results of the surveys indicate that inequalities exist in our Institution and provide insights as to the specific areas where improvement is required to achieve our ambition of becoming an antiracist University, as set out in our Antiracism Strategy which was launched this year. We will address the issues raised in the surveys with commitment and determination and in consultation with our community.  We are committed to tackling racism in all its forms, and any reports of racism by staff or students are deeply concerning to us.  

The responses show the importance of fostering a sense of belonging in the working and learning environments.  Staff and students have reported that they have experienced racism and are unclear as to the most appropriate route for reporting it. Staff indicated the importance of transparency in recruitment and selection and career development processes, and students indicated that race could be discussed in the learning environment more frequently.

We have identified the areas where action is required and will take forward the work through an Antiracism Strategy Action Plan, to build on the work undertaken to date. Priorities are as follows:

  • Implementing and monitoring the new Recruitment and Selection Policy which has a focus on addressing under-representation and embedding equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Build on the race literacy training delivered to staff, including senior management, to increase knowledge and awareness of antiracism
  • Continue to drive decolonisation through the priorities and aims of the Decolonising the Curriculum Steering Group.
  • Drive work on addressing the ethnicity awarding gap through our Race Equality Strategy Group
  • Embedding antiracism in University initiatives and policies for staff and students through our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Student Support and Experience Committee and in all University business, working with our Court members
  • Continue with a rolling programme of race listening activities to further explore the results of the survey

Our commitment to the principles of the Race Equality Charter will continue to support our work on antiracism, and the surveys will be repeated to enhance our understanding of the experiences of staff and students. Racial inequalities have no place in our University and we look forward to continuing to work with our community to tackle and dismantle it.

Thank you for engaging with this report and if you would like to provide feedback or comments, please e-mail

Best wishes

Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal Education and Co-Chair of Race Equality Strategy Group

Siladitya Bhattacharya
Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition and Co-Chair of Race Equality Strategy Group



You can seek support from the following:

Launch of University Antiracism Strategy

10 October 2022

Dear colleagues
Our goal of creating an antiracist culture and ethos on campus moves a step forward with the formal launch of our Antiracism Strategy 2022-2025
The strategy was developed by our Race Equality Strategy Group and the video below provides valuable insights and perspectives from staff and students on how the strategy will drive forward race equality in the University.

If you want to discuss anything which arises for you through reading the strategy or watching the video please do get in touch or contact our staff and student support services.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and students who provided invaluable contributions to the development of the Antiracism Strategy. The areas of focus in the strategy were identified and fostered through conversations across campus and with input from Advance HE and other partners throughout 2020 and 2021. The strategy provides high-level ambitions on governance, leadership, representation, recruitment and selection, diversifying the curriculum, closing the awarding gap, research and reporting racism, and support. 
We recognise the long-term commitment required to realise the ambition of the strategy which provides the platform and basis for our continuing engagement with you. We are committed to bold action to progress the development of antiracist working and learning environments and to regularly update you as to our progress and engaging you in this work.
During the development phase of the strategy, it was important to continue to take the action required to address racism. We share examples of this action below and very much welcome your feedback on these. More information can be found here:
We look forward to working with you to take forward the critical pledges in the Antiracism Strategy.
Best wishes
Ruth and Bhatty
Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal Education and Co-Chair of Race Equality Strategy Group

Siladitya Bhattacharya
Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition and Co-Chair of Race Equality Strategy Group

Antiracism work in the University:

  • In 2019 the University signed up to the Advance HE Race Equality Charter which has provided a helpful framework for progressing our work, particularly in relation to the collation and analysis of the data required to benchmark our progress.
  • We established the Race Equality Strategy Group in 2020 with a remit to tackle systemic inequalities, challenge stereotypes and decolonise the curriculum.
  • A listening and learning period on race and racism began in 2020 to understand the barriers faced by racialised groups and to support with identifying actions which can be taken to advance race equality.
  • The Race Equality Network was established in 2020 and provides an informal social space to share experiences in a confidential and supported environment and to promote and contribute to the advancement of race equality in our institution.
  • In 2021 we appointed 21 Race Equality Champions who support the implementation of good practice in race equality in their School or Directorate and provide advice and guidance to staff and students.
  • The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Students’ Forum represents the views of students who identify with minority ethnicities and has provided valuable support in taking forward antiracism in the University
  • The Decolonising the Curriculum Steering Group is a subgroup of the University Education Committee which provides a framework for the work on decolonising the curriculum, creating sustainable actions to develop an anti-racist culture, and responding to the needs of racialised groups
  • We adopted the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism this year, working with Jewish students to achieve this and support their safety and security on campus.
  • The first Race Equality Charter Survey was launched earlier this year to provide an opportunity for staff and students to share their views about their experience of working or studying here and the results of this will support the development of the Antiracism Strategy Action Plan.
  • We have hosted and led two virtual Antiracism Roundtables to identify where we can work with local partners to support antiracist work in the northeast of Scotland.
  • Our Black History Month events have provided opportunities for engaging staff and students
  • Race literacy training was offered to all staff during 2022. The previous year, frontline staff, as well as the Senior Management Team, University Court and University Management Group engaged in sessions dedicated to understanding leadership in the context of an antiracist university.
First anniversary of the killing of George Floyd

25 May 2021

Dear colleagues and students,

We wanted to write to you to acknowledge that a year has passed since the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to reflect on the significance of this anniversary. 

We understand that this will be a difficult time for many of us.  If you do wish to talk or access support, please visit our Race Equality web pages.

The appalling events of 25 May 2020 further highlighted endemic racism in society and prompted the Higher Education sector to call for more action to address racism. The Black Lives Matter movement motivated us to accelerate our work on race equality by listening to, and learning from, our valued diverse community.

We are dedicated to implementing a bold Anti-Racism Strategy and creating a culture of inclusion where all our staff and students feel welcome and safe.  Our Race Equality Strategy Group is supporting us with this work as we begin consultation on our strategy. This strategy is informed by our institutional data as well as feedback from our new anonymous and confidential online reporting tool. Our aim is to fully understand and address the barriers faced by staff and students of colour, by actively listening to the lived experiences of our community. A recent conversation between Professor Ruth Taylor and PhD student, Karendeep Sidhu can be viewed here.

Our commitments under the Race Equality Charter provide a focus and structure for this work. The recent race equality training in the University continues to raise awareness about race and inspire action at individual and organisational level. Our ongoing conversations on race, the appointment of Race Equality Champions, discussions on de-colonisation and a range of events delivered through Black History Month have increased our understanding of racism and strengthened our resolve to tackle it.

This poignant anniversary reminds us that we have much to do to realise our ambition of creating an anti-racist University.  Our commitment to Advance HE’s Declaration on Race is unwavering, and, with your support, we will continue to drive forward this critical work and remember how the events of 25 May 2020, as well as other such tragic incidents both before and since George Floyd’s death, have galvanised the global fight against racism.  

Racism exists on our campuses and in our society, call it what it is and reject it in all its formsWe stand united against racism.

Advance HE Declaration on Race

With best wishes

Ruth, Bhatty and Cecilia

Ruth Taylor and Siladitya Bhattacharya
Senior Race Equality Champions
Co-chairs, Race Equality Strategy Group

Cecilia Wallbäck
AUSA Student President

Tackling racism in Higher Education

To tackle racism on our campus, we first need to learn about the experiences of our community.

In August 2020, Ruth Taylor and Siladitya Bhattacharya spoke with medical students Jessica Eze and Karina Chopra about race equality at the University, and their experiences of racism during their studies.

In May 2021, Ruth Taylor spoke with PhD student, Karendeep Sidhu. Watch their conversation here.

Black Lives Matter

8 July 2020

Dear colleagues and students,

Our stance on racism could not be clearer - this University does not tolerate racist or discriminatory behaviour and we will take action where it occurs.

Like many other institutions we have our own story to tell and we will do so openly and honestly as we pledged in our statement in relation to Black Lives Matter.

Part of that story is about our own historical connections to slavery and we are investing in a new research post investigating those links. It will shine a light on how the University and the North-east of Scotland benefited from the proceeds of the slave trade. It will also explain the role of those connected to the University who were involved in slavery or actively sought its abolition.

Examples of this legacy remain with us - such as some of our campus architecture or financial endowment funds. These too will be highlighted.

Separately, this month we will also launch a new series of listening sessions for students and staff. These will enable us to continue to learn from those prepared to share their own lived experiences, which in turn will shape and inform our anti-racism strategy.

Inclusiveness is a key theme of Aberdeen 2040, we are signatories to the Race Equality Charter  and we have also just agreed to work further on tackling racism with our campus trade unions, who have asked for more training for staff, are helping support our racial harassment work and are contributing to the portfolio of planned actions.

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has approved the creation of a new Race Equality Strategy Group and we have identified a chair of a soon-to-be launched staff and student race network.

We are grateful to those who have been in touch to share their experiences - including the signatories and supporters of an open letter from the Black Medical Society Aberdeen detailing racist incidents that medical students have experienced in a range of settings. It makes for shocking reading - demonstrating systemic racism and ongoing microaggressions.

The University acted swiftly after receiving the open letter – meeting members of the Black Medical Society and responding to other students in touch with concerns or a wish to share their own experiences.

The matter was raised immediately with health partners; the content of the medical curriculum is being reviewed to make it more inclusive reflecting the diversity of our students and a plurality of perspectives; improvements will be made to emphasise and amplify race equality within equality and diversity training in the School, and an enhanced reporting system for students is also being investigated.

A separate incident involving an image which plays to racist stereotypes that was used on an advert for a degree programme has led to an apology from the University and a commitment to review our approach to using imagery in marketing and other platforms in consultation with AUSA and other stakeholders.

We do not believe these problems are limited to health settings and are likely to be present across the University. Improvements and learning from these issues – and from experiences shared at our listening sessions – will enable us to make changes that will be embedded across our institution.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission Report: Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged provided further evidence that racism exists in universities. We have analysed its findings and its recommendations will be taken forward by our new Race Equality Strategy Group.

The Black Lives Matter movement has brought a new and much-needed focus to the endemic racism which persists in society and is under-reported.

There is much to do to tackle structural racism in our education and research but we will do whatever is necessary to eliminate it.

Best wishes

George and Cecilia

Professor George Boyne  Cecilia Wallback
Principal and Vice Chancellor    AUSA Student President


8 June 2020

Dear Colleagues and Students,

As a University which strives to be open and welcoming, diverse and inclusive, we recognise that the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has prompted sadness, grief, outrage and anxiety in America and across the world.  Over the last two weeks we have seen demonstrations across the globe against systemic racism that sadly still exists in our society. 

We know that the shock and anger were no less felt across our University community. We wanted to reach out to you all to express the University and AUSA’s solidarity on these events and to offer support.

The University of Aberdeen will not tolerate racist or discriminatory behaviour against any minority group.

We encourage open discussion on race equality, and inclusivity of all minority groups. We urge anyone who has witnessed or experienced racist behaviour to speak out, and your channels for doing so can be found below.

As a society and as a University, we have much more to do to ensure racial equality. There have been times in our history when we as a University have fallen short. We are committed to continuing to support work to tackle racism across the sector, and we wanted to let you know that our University has:

  • Embedded Inclusion as a key strategic priority in Aberdeen 2040 and is developing a clear set of Key Performance Indicators in this area
  • Signed up to Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education
  • Established an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee with representatives from staff and students discussing actions to promote race equality. The Committee has been analysing data in relation to the employment lifecycle of staff of all ethnicities with a view to developing recommendations
  • Convened a working group on Tackling Racial Harassment - co-chaired by Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya and Professor Ruth Taylor - to address the recommendations of the report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, entitled Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged
  • Begun consultations with staff on establishing a Race Equality Network.

We know there is much to be done still and this includes ensuring our curriculum is fully inclusive and also contributing to tackling the national attainment gap linked to race and ethnicity. Let us absolutely assure you that we will do this with energy, vision and determination.

Our resolve to celebrate diversity and strengthen our approach to inclusion remains fundamental.

We want to hear from our community of staff and students, as we as a University seek to better support staff and students from all backgrounds, to develop our curriculum and reflect on our role as an educator and how we can facilitate change for future generations. 

We are also here to support you. For anyone with points to raise or actions to suggest, please do so by contacting (for staff) or (for students).  

Alternatively, you can also seek support from the AUSA Advice team by emailing or the AUSA Black and Minority Ethnic Students Forum either at or  

We will continue to take action where racism occurs.

Best wishes,

George and Cecilia

Professor George Boyne  Cecilia Wallback
Principal and Vice Chancellor    AUSA Student President
Share your experiences

If you would like to share your own experiences, you can do so confidentially using this form.

Listening period on race and racism

The University invites you to contribute to its listening period on race and racism. The purpose of this is to learn from the experiences of staff and students, to ensure that all voices are heard and therefore to normalise open conversations on race. Our work on race equality will be informed by the lived experiences of our community. We want to hear about the real issues and the barriers faced by staff and students and ideas about how best to tackle them. The responses on this form will be reviewed by the Equality and Diversity Adviser and confidentiality will be maintained - you don’t have to provide any identification or contact details if you don’t wish to. Thank you for your participation and support in promoting race equality.