University of St Andrews apologies for ‘letting down’ BAME students and staff

The University of St Andrews has issued an apology for its past failures to value black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students.

George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in the US last month has sparked a wave of calls for social change, with people across the world protesting for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement among other causes.

The university has now issued a public statement recognising it has “let down” BAME students and staff.

  • Just over 20% of student population
  • 6.6% of staff
  • 35.4% of taught postgraduates
  • 24.6% of research postgraduates
  • 17.9% of undergraduates

Principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone said: “We know that for decades St Andrews hasn’t got this right, that we’ve let down our BAME students and staff and that our university has been, and continues to be, so much the poorer for it.

“On behalf of this institution, I apologise for that.

“Acknowledging that injustice, understanding what we are and have been doing to right it and where we must all play a part in enabling structural change is an absolutely fundamental step in our reform.”

The university has also published equality, diversity and inclusion progress reports for the first time.

It suggests just over 20% of St Andrews’ student population identifies as BAME while the proportion across Scottish universities is 8.8%.

A student breakdown shows 35.4% of taught postgraduates are BAME, 24.6% research postgraduates identify as BAME, and 17.9% of undergraduates are BAME.

Of St Andrews staff, 6.6% identify as BAME.

The figures also indicate 4% of Scotland’s population identifies as BAME and in Fife, where the university is based, the figure is 2.4%.

Professor Sally Mapstone
Prof Mapstone said this is only a start’ (Saltire Society/PA)

Ms Mapstone added: “Every one of the initiatives under way at St Andrews exists because we want to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“These actions are only a start, but I hope they provide a sense of depth and momentum, and the centrality of diversity to what St Andrews, under my leadership, aspires to be.”

Student president Jamie Rodney said: “I echo the principal’s apology – the students’ association, just like the university, has fallen short of doing everything it could do for BAME, and particularly black, students.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to support the university’s actions, and uplift the voices of our black students.”

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