THE University of Glasgow is to bring in new 'respect advisers' after issuing an apology over racism.   

Its own survey found that half of all ethnic minority students reported being harassed between two and five times since beginning studies.

Their report found the survey results contrasted to the "handful" of racial harassment cases captured by university processes.

The analysis found there was a reluctance to report such harassment because of a lack of confidence that such incidents would be treated seriously combined with a fear of reprisals from fellow students and staff.

Students found that existing support advisors were white and according to the report "may not have the anti-racist literacy to undrstand the significance and force of microaggression and incivility when carried on a persitent basis".

More than a quarter of ethnic minority students who took part in the survey say the University of Glasgow has a serious problem with racism.

The attacks range from racist name-calling to what was described as "micro-aggressions" aimed at wilfully excluding ethnic minority students. Ten said they or a fellow student had been subjected to racist violence while studying at the university.

Around four in ten of black students believed the university was either very poor or poor at combatting racial harassment, compared to around 30% of Asians.

But the investigation found that racism was also found among staff.

In what was described as "distressing episode" an ethnic minority staff member was called a "black bastard" by a fellow colleague.

When the minority staff member reported the incident to their line manager, the response was to ask:"What did you do to make her say that?"

Of 20 ethnic minority staff questioned, nearly all reported being subjected to some form of racial harassment.

The university has now launched an action plan to tackle racism and racist incidents on campus grounds as part of its efforts to address racial inequality.

And that involves recruiting new respect advisers "to ensure ethnic diversity".  

They can provide confidential, impartial one-to-one advice with issues of racial harassment.

Anti-racist and cultural awareness training is to be given to all staff, prioritising those involved in staff or student investigation processes.

The Glasgow investigation was launched as a direct response to a 2019 Equality and Human Rights Commission report which uncovered widespread evidence of racial harassment on university campuses.

In the wake of the Understanding Racism, Transforming University Cultures report, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “The report is a very difficult read and outlines challenging experiences of racism or racial injustice."


Prof Muscatelli, who is chairman of the university’s Equality and Diversity Strategy Committee and commissioned the investigation into student and staff experiences of racism added: “On behalf of the University of Glasgow, I want to apologise unreservedly to my colleagues and our students who have been impacted by racism or racial injustice while working or studying here.

“I want to also recognise the detrimental impact these experiences have had on inclusion, your wellbeing and your sense of belonging – for a University which prides itself on its values and reputation this is unacceptable.

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Former University of Glasgow rector Aamer Anwar condemned "the failures of senior management" to deal with racism and discrimination on campus saying it was "institutionally racist".

Mr Anwar said that during his three years as rector he had raised concerns about the racism and discrimination faced by students and staff, yet there was "little or no action taken and more than often than not my experience was one of abject denial".

He added: "Our minority ethnic staff have long complained of being ignored, bullied or excluded because of their race. Let me be blunt the University of Glasgow is institutionally racist and that can be seen on so many levels including the lack of diversity on staff.

"The University Court of which I was the president of, as the Rector, had over 50 lay members, but I was the only person of colour, I raised this at the very first court meeting, three years later it had not changed.

"In my time as rector, horrific allegations were brought to me, but sadly despite the support of the principal, staff and students involved had little confidence in the system protecting them from reprisals.


"Many of those students suffered from mental breakdowns, failed exams, and desperately hung on to get their qualifications never ever to return because of their experience.

"How barbaric to find in this report that a staff member called a 'black bastard', on complaining to their line manager is asked what they did to make that person say that. I heard a lot worse.

"I have repeatedly complained of the treatment of international students as cash cows, in particular our Chinese students with little success at including them at the heart of our University.

"I am deeply saddened at reading this report, as a young student in 1988-89 I led the campaign to expose racism at the Glasgow Dental School, which ultimately led to anonymous marking in all faculties, I had hoped that in the three decades that have passed that this great University would have made racism a relic of the past, sadly it seems not.”

The study concluded there was a need to "reconceive the university as an engine for delivering racial equality to our staff and students".

It said this will "require us to re-ordinate our underlying pre-supposition towards these questions from one underpinned by colour-blindness to one informed by a proactive commitment to deliver racial equality".

Mr Muscatelli added: “While tackling racism is a problem that extends far beyond the University of Glasgow, following the 2019 EHRC report we resolved to act and launched a major review of our policies and procedures concerning racial harassment.

“We are determined to use this report as a catalyst to effect change. Already through the University’s leadership team in collaboration with colleagues and students we have begun to implement the report’s action plan. We hope that all our staff and students will join us as active participants in driving through these necessary changes.

“While we recognise that tackling racism remains a problem for society at large, to be the institution we aspire to be, the University is clear that we must act and act decisively. This report and the accompanying action plan offers us a way forward to deliver real and meaningful change.”