The University of Leeds should implement a body dedicated to research into decolonisation

Passed: May 2020 (12th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

The BAME Awarding Gap shows that BAME students are over 10% less likely to come out of university with a 2:1 or a 1st and twice as likely to drop out of university than their white counterparts. However, Black students face the largest disparities, with 26% less likely to be awarded a 2:1 or a 1st and fewer than only 1% of the UK's lecturers being Black.

Research by the Runnymede Trust, NUS and CLASS think tank has shown that the lack of culturally sensitive mental health services, and lack of representative curricula are two key factors that contribute to the BAME Attainment Gap. Little representation within curriculum content, within the academic staff body and in the university’s counselling services can therefore lead to disengagement and isolation. Thus, it is urgent that the university levels the playing field for students in all of their diversity and addresses these disparities at an institutional level.

I am asking that the University agree to follow the lead of universities like the University of Warwick, UCL, and University of Leicester in funding a scheme to address the severity of the disparities mentioned, along with other wider issues related to race. This requires the University's commitment to a 'Leeds Decolonisation Network' which would involve one full-time member of staff who would coordinate with a group of appointed students, to produce wide-scale reviews on how the university can go further to decolonise, by documenting the lack of access, unconscious biases, racial micro-aggressions, hyper-surveillance and significant lack of representation at senior leadership level.

On a practical level, each student would take the lead on different research areas e.g. one may focus on curriculum, another may look at making the University’s mental health services more culturally competent, and another may look at the University’s relationship with businesses and companies complicit in the climate crisis and oppression in the global south. This would then be collated in a comprehensive report at the end of the year to be sent to the University, which would lay the groundwork for future years to conduct further research and to lobby the University on issues related to decolonisation.

Another priority would be also to amplify the 'Why Is My Curriculum White?' campaign, beyond LUU and into the wider campus. This would ensure that the campaign is active and engaging throughout the year, that the work of decolonisation can be built on year after year, and that students keen on getting involved have a direct avenue through which they can.

Implementing this would be a positive step forward as the Network would comprehensively address and lobby the university on how best to tackle the barriers BAME students and staff face, and foster a more representative, ethical and inclusive university environment.

Expires: May 2023 (12th)

Submitted By: Safyan Rahman

Officer: Education / Equality & Diversity

Area of Work: Education Service Provision


September 2021: The Decolonising Framework passed at Senate in July and steps have been taken by the University to further this project. They Key Principles Document mentioned in the last update has now been publicised on the Student Education Practice section of the University website, along with further plans to publish 'how-to' guides, glossaries, podcasts and resource lists. Across Semester 1, the aim will be for the new Decolonising Student Advisory Board to start and for a a series of workshops to take place in Schools and Faculties regarding decolonisation.

April 2021: The Key Principles Document is being presented to the Taught Student Education Board in the University where feedback can be given and amendments proposed. The Decolonisation Group have also moved into the second stage of implementation which concerns writing guides on how to decolonise faculties and professional services, as well as one on how to prompt greater student engagement around decolonisation.

January 2021: Carolina (Education Officer) is working with the University's 'Decolonisation Group' on setting out a key principles document of what this policy would look like - essentially a blueprint for its implementation. It will now be a matter of proposing this to more senior levels of University staff.

May 2020: New Policy