Universities to combat race bias in research

Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent.

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Ethnic minority students will be encouraged to apply for postgraduate courses.

Universities are trying to get more ethnic minority students into research.

There are claims of institutional racism affecting black people.

Out of nearly 20,000 PhD positions awarded over three years, only 245 were to black students.

The head of the UK research funding body said she was "frustrated" that the skills of so many talented people were going to be wasted.

A professor has recently been made by Arday. Prof Arday, a young black academic at Durham, seems to be having a successful university career, but he says it has come at a cost.

If someone asked me what the plan was to become an academic, I would say that it was "how much can you suffer?"

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Prof Arday said it was difficult for Asian and black academics.

Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser said diversity was essential if researchers were to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems.

There are huge challenges facing the world, like we have seen with the climate change summit in Glasgow. She said that you need different people with different ways of thinking to solve the problems.

The current system is too narrow and needs to be opened up.

13 projects have been funded by UKRI. The aim is to encourage black, Asian and other ethnic minority students to study after their university degrees and to continue their careers in research. Many of the universities are involved in partnership with businesses.

The projects include the development of fair admissions criteria for Oxford and Cambridge University, a project to increase the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic female professors, and a scheme to improve university cultures.

The projects aim to increase the number of ethnic minority students at postgraduate level by encouraging them to do research and providing them with support through mentoring, training and advice.

The report by Leading Routes called The Broken Pipeline was the basis for the initiative. Out of nearly 20,000 PhDs awarded by research funders, between 2016 and 2019, 245 were awarded to black or black mixed students, with 30 of those being to those from black Caribbean background.

The latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that the disparity increases as black people who choose to do research attempt to progress up the career ladder: of the 22,795 professors in the UK, 155 are black and only 40 are black women.

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People are thrown into toxic environments. Black people are not progressing, they are not having careers that they aspire to because of biases.

The lead author of the report is thrilled with the news. She told the news organization that there was no point in attracting more ethnic minority students into postgraduate research if they didn't tackle racism.

You have more people thrown into toxic environments if you don't. She said that black people are not progressing because of the biases they still have.

I know of students who have been told by their lecturers that they should not stay. They are comforting and reassuring them that it is okay to drop out, rather than providing them with the support that would help them stay.

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Dame Ottoline Leyser, the head of UK's research funding body, wants to change the culture of research from a sector that is narrow to one that is enthusiastic about difference.

Prof Leyser acknowledges the suffering of ethnic minority researchers.

She said that black people are disproportionate targets of harassment in research because they are under-represented.

She says that the research environment can become toxic for minority groups because it is judged on a narrow set of metrics. throughput of research and publication in leading scientific journals

The more you exclude people who don't have the opportunity to meet those criteria, the narrower you get.

The culture of the research system is changing so that it is more enthusiastic about difference.

Universities need to rethink how they recruit people to become researchers, according to Dr Mike Sulu, who is involved in a project at University College London. The students that get the best results are selected by the current system.

Being a good researcher is different to academic study. Research is more about getting to know a field and your passion. These things are difficult to measure, which is why people don't try to measure them.

The Royal Society, the UK's most influential scientific body, has been holding round table discussions between representatives from minority ethnic groups, funders and other figures from the research community to understand why black researchers in particular are not progressing in their careers.

The current situation is unacceptable according to Prof Sir Adrian Smith, president of the Royal Society.

The challenges black researchers face in building their academic career have been left no doubt by the meetings. He said that they have shown clear recognition of the need to address these systemic issues together and over the long-term.

The Royal Society is looking into what it can do to support researchers from underrepresented groups.

The communities of black people.
Race and ethnicity are related.

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