Promoting diversity at UAL

London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and UAL’s student population has long reflected that diversity. However it’s striking that, to a large extent, our staff profile does not.Currently 13% of staff here come from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. That compares reasonably well with the picture across the UK HE sector as a whole, for which the figure is 11% overall. But when you narrow it down to London HE institutions only, the percentage of BAME staff leaps to 24% – nearly twice that of UAL’s.

Celebrating the launch of the mentoring programme

Perhaps surprisingly, UK arts and design HE institutions in particular seem to perform poorly on staff diversity, with only 4% of staff from BAME backgrounds overall. Why is that? Perhaps arts and design institutions automatically assume that they are liberal, progressive places and therefore don’t need to be proactive in promoting equality. Or perhaps the perceived economic uncertainty of a creative career makes it disproportionately accessible to the white middle classes.

Whatever the underlying causes, as a University and as a country we cannot afford to let talent go to waste. So to tackle the underrepresentation of BAME staff at UAL, we are working with the Network for Black Professionals to find ways to ensure all our staff have an equal chance to make the most of opportunities here.

This week, we launch a pilot mentoring scheme for BAME staff in central services which will continue until December, after which we hope to extend it into the Colleges.

 This is a complex issue and I would welcome your comments and ideas about what else the University can do to promote equality of opportunity for all staff.

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