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Tackling racism at Durham University

Published Tuesday 24 November, 2020, in response to the Universities UK report 'Tackling racial harassment in higher education.'

“We welcome Universities UK’s work in tackling racial harassment. We will carefully consider its report and recommendations and what further action we may wish to take. We remain committed to listening to and working with our staff, students and representatives groups to collective promote culture change and a climate of anti-racism within the University.”


  • Durham University signed the Race Equality Charter in 2019 and is working to understand any institutional or cultural barriers that may stand in the way of BAME staff and students, and to improve the representation, progression and success of BAME staff and students within the University community.
  • The University has introduced an online Report and Support tool through which staff, students and visitors can report unwanted behaviours and seek support. This can be found at: Data collected through the tool is published online here.
  • Our Executive Dean for Science and a Co-Chair of the BAME Staff Network currently chair a Black Lives Matter round-table discussion for staff, which has been meeting with Executive representatives to discuss relevant issues and identify opportunities to address structural inequalities from a race perspective.
  • Professor Simon Forrest, Principal of the College of St Hild and St Bede, has chaired a round-table discussion involving students and senior staff including Executive members. This has led to us committing financial support to a student-led project aimed at supporting access to higher education by people of colour.
  • In July 2020, the University published the final report of the Durham Commission on Respect, Values and Behaviour, a year-long study to understand what it is like to study and work at Durham University. The University has made taking forward its recommendations a priority. For example, it is intended that a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion will be appointed in the first half of 2021. Nominations have recently been sought for the Respect Oversight Group, which will review progress in the delivery of the recommendations by a management-led Respect Working Group. It is hoped a panel will be confirmed in December 2020.

The UUK report also recommends that universities:

  • Review current policies and procedures: Durham University is currently reviewing its Respect at Study policy, including consultation with students;
  • Develop anti-racist training: the University worked with the Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA) to provide funding to support training for College representatives
  • Ensure expectations of online behaviour are clearly communicated: a video recently created by the University on this topic is available here and below.


Supporting materials: Behaviour and respect in learning and teaching online

  • As we move to blended learning and more online teaching, we need to all remain aware of how our behaviour can affect others. It’s important to continue to treat each other with respect, especially when we can’t be face-to-face, to ensure everyone gets the most out of their learning experience.

Racism has no place at Durham University. We are working to build a safe, respectful and inclusive environment. We acknowledge we have more to do to make this a reality for everyone, but we are working hard to achieve this. Where behaviour falls below the standards we would expect, we will take swift and decisive action.

Professor Stuart Corbridge
Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University

Behaviour and respect in learning and teaching online

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