Westminster Higher Education Forum

Priorities for tackling racial harassment and improving the BAME experience in higher education

Morning, Wednesday, 27th November 2019

Central London


This seminar will examine priorities for tackling racial harassment and improving the BAME experience in higher education.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into racial harassment in higher education, looking at the current state of equality in UK HE, the nature of harassment experienced by students and how universities manage complaints.

Delegates will discuss key areas of concern identified by the inquiry and issues around implementation of recommendations, including in:

  • Developing an understanding of the nature and range of racial harassment in HEIs;
  • Availability and accessibility of mechanisms for reporting and redress, priorities for their improvement, and what effective action means in practice; and
  • The adequacy of the statutory and legal framework affecting the responsibilities of universities in tackling the issues.

The agenda includes discussion on the legal and moral obligations of HEIs towards ethnic minority students - including how university and student union policies can restrict hate speech while protecting free speech.

This comes following the publication of guidance by the EHRC setting out the legal rights and duties around free speech in UK universities.

Attendees will further discuss how institutions can manage harassment which occurs off campus, including in student accommodation blocks and on social media.

Discussion will also address institutional procedures for reporting racial harassment, looking at how HEIs can ensure that complaints procedures and support structures are simple and accessible for victims.

Delegates will consider how institutions can clarify and update codes of behaviour and disciplinary policies, specifically around the investigation process and sanctions, to ensure that they are clear, consistent and fair.

Further sessions will consider the university experience for ethnic minority students more broadly, including how institutions can develop a more inclusive learning environment and priorities for creating both an inclusive curriculum and culturally-competent support service.

We also expect discussion on addressing the barriers to progression faced by BAME academics.

Keynote Speaker

Christina Barnes

Senior Principal, Inquiries and Intelligence, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Keynote Speakers

Christine Child

Adjudication Manager, Office of the Independent Adjudicator

Senior speaker confirmed from the Office for Students

Christina Barnes

Senior Principal, Inquiries and Intelligence, Equality and Human Rights Commission


Lord Sheikh

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race and Community


Esther Offenberg

President-Elect, Union of Jewish Students

Professor Deborah Johnston

Pro-Director, Teaching and Learning, SOAS University of London

Dr Trish Reid

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching), Kingston University London

Géraldine Dufour

Head of Counselling, University of Cambridge and Chair, Universities & Colleges, BACP

Rt Hon David Lammy MP

former Minister, Higher Education and Intellectual Property, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (subject to Parliamentary business)

Helen Reade

Assistant University Secretary (Adjudication), University of Bedfordshire

Homa Wilson

Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors

Georgina Calvert-Lee

Head of UK Practice and Senior Counsel, McAllister Olivarius

Dr Zainab Khan

Faculty Academic Director, Student Experience, Faculty of Business & Law, University of the West of England