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Black Academy gives University students and staff a voice

Student smiling

Line-up of eminent Black speakers from University of East London address meeting

The University of East London’s Black Academy met for the first time with a launch event at the University. The first meeting (on Thursday 14 November) attracted over 100 students and staff who gathered to listen to a line-up of eminent Black speakers from the University.

The Black Academy is comprised of staff at the University who are motivated to support and develop students and staff in academia. 

As each speaker told their motivational stories encouraging the audience to be inspired and to support each other as a group, Dr Winston Morgan, a reader in toxicology, revealed that out of 20,000 professors in the UK, about 120 were Black. Nationally 1.4% of academics are Black and 7% of students are Black, while at the University of East London 39% of students are Black. The percentage of academics at the University, however, was higher than the national but still only 5%. This number should be higher given the large Black student body.

“We must have a greater input into academic life,” Dr Morgan told the audience. “It is important to have Black colleagues and academics inspiring all staff and students. A student who graduates without being taught by at least one Black academic has not had a complete education.”

“There is a lack of Black academics at universities,” explained Lurraine Jones, Acting Head of Social Sciences, and the key organiser of the event. “Our Black Academy at the University is one of the largest in the sector and has a special focus and passion for issues of social justice, racial equity, anti-racism and Black representation.

“The Black Academy is committed to supporting all student study endeavours and wellbeing and we have created a space of opportunity where staff and students can get to know us better, and we can get to know them. This, our first meeting, was a great success.”

The Academy can already boast an accolade, as earlier this year the University was awarded a Bronze Race Equality Charter (REC) Mark, which is an award that aims to support and encourage universities to work towards race equality. The award commits the University to identify and address barriers experienced by minority ethnic students and staff and to enable more students to graduate with good degrees and better employability opportunities.

Professor Marcia Wilson, who was recently appointed as the first dean of the office of institutional equity at the University, said that it was important for Black students and staff to be visible. She went on to tell the students that the staff are there to support and to help feed the pipeline from undergraduate to postgraduate study and beyond.

Over 20 key speakers from the University took part in the meeting, including Dr Jummy Okoya, who has just been selected fourth out of the top 50 Most Inspirational Black Women in the UK, Dr Anthony Gunter, principal lecturer in criminology and Dr Charles Prince, director of student success.

Note: The word ‘Black’ in this piece has been specifically included with a capital ‘B’ in view of the context of this story: see advice in link: