Diversity one of our strongest assets

Professor Marcia Wilson, Dean of the Office for Institutional Equity, University of East London

Professor Marcia Wilson, Dean of the Office for Institutional Equity, University of East London - Credit: Archant

The brutal police killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis sparked global protests over racial inequality.

It was a moment that became a world-wide movement and has seen thousands of people living in England stand up and say Black lives matter.

At the University of East London, these events affected us all. Located in one of the world’s most multi-cultural areas, the university’s 15,000-plus students are a microcosm of this diversity, representing 150 different nationalities.

We believe that diversity is one of our strongest assets and a significant amount of work is being done to create an institution that is reflective of its values and its community.

Our Office for Institutional Equity, the first in the UK, has specific responsibility for addressing inequalities within the institution by creating sustainable cultural changes which will positively impact the university community.

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The goal is to create a culture and environment where institutional equity is embedded into the hearts and minds of every individual and is automatically considered in everything that is done.

UEL has also been recognised for its efforts to achieve greater equality and inclusion. In rankings released by the Times Higher Education, we were second in a field of 760 universities worldwide in reducing inequalities – ranking top in the UK.

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We are also one of only 14 universities to be awarded the Race Equality Charter Bronze award.

The University of East London’s Black Academy was formed last year. Across the education sector, Black academics and management are largely invisible and it was important for UEL students to see that we do exist and make the invisible visible.

It is vital that everyone recognises that they have a responsibility to engage in dismantling institutional racism.

In the same way that we have seen diverse groups of people coming together to state that Black Lives Matter, we must adopt the same ethos at our university to build an anti-racist institution.

We must all commit to dismantling the structures so that all of our community is able to flourish and reach their potential.

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