Creating an anti-racist culture (full conference)

  • 21 April 2021
  • 09:00
  • 22 April 2021
  • 16:30
  • Online
  • 10

Registration is closed

Creating an anti-racist cultureCreating an anti-racist culture: the role and impact of Student Services

Tackling racism and creating an anti-racist culture are key priorities for higher education. How can Student Services foster empowering communities that actively champion diversity and work together to eradicate systemic barriers to equality for black and ethnic minority students and staff? This virtual conference explores how Student Services leaders and their teams can drive this work, through strategic planning, service delivery and practical initiatives.

AMOSSHE members can find the event resources here:

Members only

Join us to discuss why and how creating an anti-racist culture relates to the work of Student Services, and learn about current progress within the sector and the wider community. The conference provides opportunities for open and honest conversations about contemporary challenges, such as how to strike a meaningful balance between lived experience and allyship, how to ensure students of colour are part of the solution, and how to strengthen our competence and confidence as anti-racist Student Services leaders. Take inspiration and advice from examples of leading Student Services practice, and contribute your own ideas about how to address racial inequality in the student experience.

Location, time and price

The conference takes place online, in two parts:

  • Pre-conference on Wednesday 21 April 2021 from 09:00 to 13:30 (BST).
  • Main conference on Stephen Lawrence Day, Thursday 22 April 2021 from 09:00 to 16:30 (BST).

Here are the delegate prices for the full conference (both days):

  • AMOSSHE named member - £109 (log in to access this rate)
  • Non-member (other employees of an AMOSSHE member organisation, individuals, not-for-profit and corporate organisations, higher education providers not associated with AMOSSHE) - £149

You don’t need to pay VAT for AMOSSHE events. Before you book to attend, please read our revised booking terms and conditions.

AMOSSHE will make every effort to ensure that you are charged the correct booking rate. However, please note that the onus is on you to provide the correct information and choose the correct rate applicable to you. AMOSSHE welcomes payment online by credit or debit card, or by bank transfer or cheque. If you choose to pay online but then decide to pay by a different method, please email for help.

Programme and speakers

The free pre-conference on Wednesday 21 April introduces you to our conference themes. This is an opportunity to get some policy updates and find out more about how our sponsors can work with you in your mission to create an anti-racist culture at your organisation. Register here if you just want to come to the free pre-conference sessions: Creating an anti-racist culture (pre-conference only).

The main conference on Thursday 22 April features a mix of presentations, Q&A, interactive workshops and networking discussion.

Time Session
Rotimi Akinsete
Jill Stevenson
Welcome and context*
Rotimi Akinsete (AMOSSHE Executive Member and Associate Dean of Students (Wellbeing & Inclusion) at the University of the Arts, London) and Jill Stevenson (AMOSSHE Executive Member and Dean of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Student Services at the University of Stirling) outline the context for the event.
Geoff Palmer
Professor Emeritus Sir Geoff Palmer: racial equality in education*
Professor Emeritus Sir Geoff Palmer presents areas of his life and work that illustrate how racism influenced his education as an immigrant from Jamaica. Sir Geoff outlines his academic journey after arriving in London in 1955. He was not allowed to work because the school leaving age was fifteen years and he was fourteen years and eleven months old. Sir Geoff's session explains how he progressed from a Secondary Modern school in London, having been classified as educationally sub-normal, to his achievements in higher education. He also discusses his present involvement in committees dealing with the legacies of slavery and colonialism, in addition to the present debate on racial disparities and institutional racism.
Khadija Mohammed
Tackling racism on campus: raising awareness and creating the conditions for confident conversations*
In October 2019 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its inquiry into racial harassment in publicly-funded universities in Great Britain. The EHRC report revealed that racial harassment was a common experience for students and staff. Scotland's direct response to this report was initiated by an Advance HE project funded by the Scottish Funding Council and led by an expert group of EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) practitioners, academics, tertiary education staff and students. The success of this project led to a landmark commitment from Scotland’s universities and colleges to support a declaration against racism. This session, led by Khadija Mohammed (Senior Lecturer in Education, University of the West of Scotland) presents an overview of the project and discusses the assets that have been created for institutions to use in tackling racism on campus.
09:55 Questions and answers with Khadija Mohammed.
Stuart Lawrence
Keynote: Stuart Lawrence*
Activist, campaigner, school teacher and author Stuart Lawrence gives his unique perspective on how Student Services can foster empowering communities that actively champion diversity and work together to eradicate systemic barriers to equality for black and ethnic minority students and staff. Stuart, whose brother Stephen Lawrence was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack in 1993, discusses the current UK context and how this reflects on higher education.
10:25 Questions and answers with Stuart Lawrence.
10:30 Break.
Yannick Yalipende
Nkasi Stoll
Chinelo Nnadi
Sapphire Francis
Jhanelle White
Jodian Dunkley
Black Students Talk: peer wellbeing support group for Black students*
Black Students Talk (BST) is a peer support group that provides safe, supportive and therapeutic spaces for Black (African, Caribbean, Mixed with Black heritage) students to meet, share, learn, and manage their mental health and wellbeing at university. University students experience complex academic, psychological, social, emotional and financial pressures. Black students face specific pressures that often affect their mental health and therefore, their university experiences and outcomes. BST was developed to help Black students understand and navigate the pressures they may face. BST wants to help make the lives of all Black students as happy, healthy and successful as possible during their time at university and beyond. In this presentation the Black Students Talk team (Yannick Yalipende, Nkasi Stoll, Chinelo Nnadi, Sapphire Francis, Jhanelle White and Jodian Dunkley) share what BST is, why it exists, how BST was set up, the importance of BST existing, their experiences of designing and running peer support groups, feedback from students, and plans for the future.
11:10 Questions and answers with Black Students Talk.
11:20 Short break.
11:25 Workshop: developing an anti-racist culture at your institution
This practical workshop, led by Rotimi Akinsete (Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Associate Dean of Students (Wellbeing & Inclusion), University of the Arts, London) and Jill Stevenson (Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Dean of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Student Services, University of Stirling) is an opportunity to network with your fellow attendees and discuss how you can develop an anti-racist culture in your institution. What does your university or college need to do differently? What are the top priorities for Student Services? Who are the key allies you need to work with? What are the barriers to creating tangible change, and how can you overcome them?
12:10 Lunch.
Claire Pratt
Jumara Stone
Promoting active allyship*
This session shares a case study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) describing the journey of creating and delivering allyship training to the university community. Claire Pratt (Head of Student Services - Wellbeing) and Jumara Stone (Wellbeing Training Manager) discuss how they went about engaging the UEA community in discussions around active allyship, educating and empowering staff and students to understand their own position, bias, the experience of others and what they can do to be part of an active change in promoting an anti-racist culture.
12:55 Questions and answers with the University of East Anglia.
Jill Stevenson
Randall Whittaker
Rowena Arshad
David Richardson
Samantha Budd
Rotimi Akinsete

Panel discussion: the role of leadership in creating an anti-racist culture*
This panel discussion, led by Jill Stevenson (Executive Member, AMOSSHE, and Dean of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Student Services, University of Stirling) explores the role of leadership in creating an anti-racist culture in higher education. How can Student Services leaders meaningfully build racial competence in our teams? What can we do to increase confidence and trust amongst those who have experienced racism? How can we involve people with lived experience when creating strategies to tackle racism? The panellists are:

  • Professor Randall Whittaker (Pro-Vice-Chancellor Academic, Leeds Arts University)
  • Professor Emerita Rowena Arshad (Co-convenor, University of Edinburgh Race Equality and Anti-Racist Sub Committee)
  • Professor David Richardson (Vice-Chancellor & President, University of East Anglia)
  • Samantha Budd (Inclusion Consultant, SB Strategic Consultancy Ltd, and Interim Director, National Union of Students)
  • Rotimi Akinsete (Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Associate Dean of Students (Wellbeing & Inclusion), University of the Arts, London)
14:10 Break.
14:30 Workshop: developing your strategy
This practical workshop, led by Rotimi Akinsete (Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Associate Dean of Students (Wellbeing & Inclusion), University of the Arts, London) and Jill Stevenson (Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Dean of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Student Services, University of Stirling) is an opportunity to develop an action plan to take away from this conference. Considering the topics raised and ideas presented throughout the conference, this is a chance to gather your thoughts and consider how you can connect your Student Services strategy to your institution's approach to creating an anti-racist culture. This is also an opportunity to consider how AMOSSHE The Student Services Organisation can facilitate this work as a movement.
15:15 Break.
Arun Verma
Advancing race equality: reflecting on key learnings from the Race Equality Charter's best practices*
The Race Equality Charter (REC) mark has been active since 2015, and Advance HE has recently completed two independent reviews of the charter that explored evidence from applications, process and early impact of the charter. Following learnings from the review and the REC's Best Practice Database, Dr Arun Verma (Head of the Race Equality Charter) and Dr Temitayo Owoka (Race Equality Charter Adviser) from Advance HE explore some initiatives from REC members that pertain to developing more diverse and inclusive Student Service systems.
15:55 Questions and answers with Advance HE.
Gurnam Singh
Decolonisation of Student Services: linking theory to practice*
Though demands for anti-racism go back to the 1980s and 90s, it seems like policy makers only feel compelled to do something following tragic deaths of black people. In the UK, the death of Stephen Lawrence at the hands of white racists in 1993 led to a major refocussing of anti-racist legislation. More recently, the horrific public execution of George Floyd in the US has led to a rebooting of the Black Lives Matter movement which, amongst other things, has demanded the decolonisation of the university. This presentation by Dr Gurnam Singh (Associate Professor of Equity of Attainment, Coventry University) looks both at the idea of decolonisation and (in very practical and specific ways) its relevance to Student Services.
16:25 Questions and answers with Gurnam Singh.

*You'll receive recordings of these sessions after the event.

You'll receive recordings of the event sessions afterwards, as well as any presentations or resources. The recordings won't include discussion sessions, workshops, ‘Chatham House rule’ sections or presentation sessions that speakers prefer not to share in this way.

Event sponsors

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