Search our site
Search our site

Kingston University's actions to tackle racism – a message from Vice-Chancellor Steven Spier

Posted Friday 24 July 2020

Kingston University's actions to tackle racism – a message from Vice-Chancellor Steven Spier

A message to students, staff and alumni from Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier:

In my statement on 5 June I confirmed that Kingston University stands together as a community with our black staff, students and alumni in condemning racism and in support of the issues that Black Lives Matter raises in our community. We are committed to tackling inequality, and we will continue to work to address disadvantage and prejudice in all its forms.

Our commitments

I also stated that we have heard the rallying call from our whole University community, that we know there is still much more we need to do to address the divisions and injustice in all areas of our society, including higher education, and at Kingston we need to play our part. We cannot address these issues as a university unless the student and staff voice is firmly at the heart of decision making.

Below are the commitments that the University has identified so far and will take forward.

Staff and student voice:

  • We will put the student and staff voice at the centre of decision-making by working closely with the Union of Kingston Students and our wider student and staff body to ensure their voice is heard and that we continue to be guided by what our staff and students tell us.
  • We will provide safe forums and support for our black students and staff to share their lived experiences and have the agency to disrupt our thinking and generate actions and change.
  • We will ensure self-organised staff networks have the necessary governance, resource and agency to be sustainable and have influence over relevant actions and decisions.
  • We are taking steps to increase representation of black and Asian staff and students in strategic planning forums, with due consideration of the additional labour involved for those individuals.
  • We aim to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of BAME staff and students through quantitative and qualitative outcomes of surveys, focus groups and other student voice mechanisms, and use this learning to inform institutional, faculty and departmental action plans.

Challenging ourselves to think and act differently:

  • Through the vehicle of our strategic plan, we are reviewing institutional key performance indicators from the perspective of equality, diversity and inclusion, and will introduce additional lead indicators to reflect the aims and targets in the five-year access and participation plan.
  • We will publish updated Public Sector Equality Duty EDI objectives that complement other targets and commitments, and set a course for more rapid progress in achieving equity for black staff and students.
  • We will strengthen membership of the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team and intensify efforts to achieve silver accreditation for race equality in recognition of the improvements we are making.
  • We are reviewing actions identified as part of the Race Equality Charter Mark to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion is reflected at all levels in the University.
  • We are considering explicitly the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in our planning for campus re-opening.

Policy and practice:

  • We will review existing policies and processes for reporting, investigating and addressing instances of racial harassment, so that we can identify gaps and ensure reporting options are well communicated to students and staff.
  • We will develop an action plan from a diagnostic review commissioned by Human Resources which will focus on long term strategies to diversify the racial make-up of staff, particularly those at senior levels.
  • We will take further the work of the inclusive curriculum framework to ensure our students see themselves, their backgrounds and cultures reflected in the curriculum.
  • We will continue to look closely at unexplained gaps in degree awards and take further steps in order to eliminate the BAME award gap.

Actions so far 

The senior leadership team has been listening to comments made by students, staff and alumni over the last month, and working with the Union of Kingston Students (UKS) and other groups and constituencies within the University to create the effective mechanisms needed to deliver real change. In delivering on our commitments above, there are many actions we will take in the short and medium-term, and we will develop more as we consult our community and create our plans. To begin with, we have: 

  • Undertaken a review of the responses we received in June around Black Lives Matter to ensure we are listening and to be clear on issues and proposals.
  • Begun a review of our own actions and performance, so we can understand in a comprehensive manner where we are delivering our commitments and where we need to do more.
  • Commissioned a review of the governance of equality, diversity and inclusion within the University, working with the Union of Kingston Students and others to make sure our approach is within the right framework.
  • Begun the process of fostering new staff networks to provide safe spaces in which the voices of our community can be heard and acted upon. We will work inclusively to ensure our networks meet the needs of our staff and have the right recognition and influence.

 Future initiatives

We will also strengthen the implementation of anti-racism training throughout the University. Alongside existing schemes offering guidance and support, we will review the current resources for staff and students devoted to promoting anti-racism and championing equality, diversity and inclusion, including online resources. We will do more to communicate, regularly and through a range of channels, the support services that are available to staff and students. We will work harder to share information about organisations that work to combat racism and, where possible, partner with them in order to benefit from the insights they offer us. 

Framework for delivery

We recognise that in order to be effective in delivering our commitments, we need to place these agendas at the heart of the University's mechanisms for decision-making and delivery. The University's strategic plan, KU22, is our framework by which we will further develop the inclusive curriculum, strengthen our performance on access and participation, and address inequality and award gaps among our diverse student body. It tasks us to deliver positive cultural change from the perspective of equality, diversity and inclusion, notably in terms of University leadership, staff engagement and performance, and staff recruitment, reward and recognition.

We are also conducting a comprehensive audit of data on our performance against our equality, diversity and inclusion commitments and testing the outcome in terms of a detailed analysis of the demands placed on us by the entirety of responses received earlier in June, which asked for more to be done about racism and inequality in the University. The strategic plan as a whole will be delivered against a range of hard measures, and progress evaluated in these terms.

We will not only listen but make sure there is genuine participation, recognition and agency in decision-making as we deliver on our commitments. We will worker harder to expose the intersections between racism and other forms of inequality and injustice that we seek to tackle, recognising the connections between racial and religious discrimination, as well as the complex interplay with questions of gender, sexual orientation and disability.

The strength of feeling among our community in relation to recent events has been made clear, and I am confident the University will deliver on your expectation of us to do better. 


The University is here to support all our students and staff who have been affected by these issues. We would encourage anyone experiencing any form of racial harassment at the University to contact a member of the harassment contact scheme who can signpost confidentially to support and formal processes. Our student wellbeing team can provide guidance and support through listening sessions for students who need a confidential, safe space to talk.? Staff can access the Employee Assistance Programme for independent and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Categories: Alumni, On campus, Staff, Students

Contact us

General enquiries:

Journalists only:

  • Communications team
    Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3034
    Email us