The Open University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Page: 56 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0042
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
In recent years Black, Asian and other people of colour have led campaigns highlighting the whiteness of academic institutions and beyond the sphere of education, the many dimensions of racism in all areas of life have been highlighted by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The 2020 Black Lives Matter campaigns brought this into focus; the movement originated in 2012 following the killing of the African American teenager Trayvon Martin and gained global prominence in 2020 following the murder of another African American, George Floyd. This reignited the campaign and led to protests and debate across the UK.

Disparities in outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic social work students and accounts of racial discrimination in practice education and university settings are a long-standing problem in England and elsewhere, despite the avowed social justice mission of the profession and the long history of Black leadership in widening access to the profession in the UK. Unfortunately, higher education policy directives and individual university interventions have not ameliorated the situation. The experiences of British social work students are mirrored in accounts from across the world, from all higher education discipline areas. They incorporate many dimensions and features of racial discrimination at the micro, meso and macro level.

Social work education in the UK has been highly politicised for decades and since becoming a degree entry profession in 2004 there have been several instances of government intervention and changes of professional regulator. Included in this politicisation have been debates about what if any role anti-racism should play in the curriculum. More recently, attention has been paid to improving student outcomes and degree qualification levels and there is some evidence of a reinvigoration of antiracist critiques of the social work curriculum. Black, Asian and minority ethnic students bring with them qualifications equal to or higher than those of white British students and graduate with lower degree qualifications.

Decolonisation of the curriculum will be discussed in relation to improving outcomes for students, but this paper argues that the curriculum needs to be considered in the broadest possible way in order to avoid deflecting attention from the responsibilities and agency of institutions in failing to improve the totality of students’ experiences.

This paper presents an initial review of the relevant literature and presents plans for a research study of academic practices using reflexive Thematic Analysis.
Black lives Matter, anti-racism, higher education, social work.