University of St Andrews: St Andrews Students Publish BAME Action Plan

The University of St Andrews BAME Students’ Network has today (1 July 2021) published its first Action Plan Report, and pledged to work in collaboration with other student groups as well as University colleagues to help deliver tangible and sustainable change.

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020, and subsequent protests around the world, represented a significant turning point in the fight for racial equality and a painful reminder that radical change is needed across society.

Not only did this cause St Andrews students, staff, graduates, and partners to reflect on the part we must all play to achieve a fairer society, it paved the way for debate and collective discourse on equality issues. The BAME Students’ Action Plan Report is one example of productive engagement with issues raised, and a step towards the University’s strategic goal of positioning diversity and inclusion at the heart of the St Andrews experience.

Conceived and produced by 20 BAME students at St Andrews, the report has a threefold aim; accepting and presenting the problem, suggesting actions to make a change, and holding University members and others accountable. It covers issues including inclusive curricula, BAME wellbeing and support, access and outreach, community building, mentorship and training.

Key issues highlighted include:

Lack of BAME staff/faculty
Need to improve diversity training for matriculating students
Importance of expanding access and outreach efforts to target BAME areas and demographics.
The report is published in summary and in full online.

Since June 2020, there have been significant developments in this area of Student Representation in St Andrews. The BAME Students’ Network was made an official Subcommittee of the Students’ Association in early August 2020, and now has a full committee of 17 members. The network is currently working in collaboration with other student groups as well as the University to implement actions proposed in the report.

Currently staff from BAME backgrounds represent around 6.6% of the University of St Andrews workforce. The University has established a Race Equality Working Group (December 2019). This group is working to address issues impacting on recruitment, retention, attainment, and towards making organisational changes.

Actions underway also include

An audit of inclusive curriculum initiatives currently active across the University, with a focus on race and ethnicity.
BAME students from St Andrews give recruitment presentations at secondary schools and review all our marketing material.
St Andrews was the only Scottish university to have advertised vacancies in publications including the Windrush Magazine, the Black History Month Magazine and website, and the BAME Education and Careers Guide magazine.
Since 2016, the University has supported staff to take part in the Advance HE Diversifying Leadership (BAME) programme.
Launch of St Andrews’ Staff BAME Network (2018).
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone said:

“This is a comprehensive and especially important piece of work by students who have not only offered rich insights into the lived experience of BAME people at St Andrews, but made considered recommendations about what we, as a community, can and must do to achieve fairness, equality, and diversity.

“I hope that everyone who works or studies at St Andrews will take the time to read this Action Plan, and consider their own part relative to our collective desire to be the diverse, inclusive, and accountable organisation to which we have committed in our Strategic Plan.

“It is a compelling and revealing report, necessarily uncomfortable in places, but positive, forward-looking and already driving lasting change.”

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