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‘Creating meaningful change’: A Living Black at University Conference

18 January 2023

The Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University is delighted to announce that the Living Black at University Conference will be taking place in Newcastle on Tuesday 7th March 2023.

This free one-day event is open to universities, accommodation providers, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leads in the sector.

Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss and better understand the findings and recommendations from the Unite Students Living Black at University report, and take ownership of actions that support the creation of a more equitable environment where Black students can thrive.

The conference will be hosted by Newcastle University and is delivered in partnership with CUBO.  Notably, the conference will take place in the King’s Hall at Newcastle University, where Dr Martin Luther King Jr received his honorary doctorate in 1967.


Living Black at University

Published in February 2022, Living Black at University was the first research report to look into the experiences of Black students in UK student accommodation. It recognised what we already knew: that decolonising the curriculum is not enough, with continued evidence of racism and discrimination in student accommodation; that there is a lack of trust from Black students in existing reporting processes; and, as such, that the effects of this have a negative impact on Black students’ mental health. There were some challenging findings, but also ten clear recommendations for making student accommodation a place that Black students are not only safe, but a place where they feel like they belong.

The report acknowledged that student accommodation plays a significant role in Black students’ university experience, satisfaction and overall wellbeing – and, therefore, that accommodation must be considered in universities’ work towards race equality.


A conference for creating meaningful change

The first recommendation from the report is that “Universities and accommodation providers should collaborate to eliminate racism from all areas of the student experience”. Unite Students are working towards this by partnering with Higher Education sector bodies and universities to launch the Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University. The Commission’s aim is to support organisations to embed these recommendations within their policies, practices and processes.

The conference is the Commission’s first networking event; an opportunity to bring Higher Education professionals together with the aim of sharing knowledge, tools and skills in order to create a space of belonging for Black students in accommodation. Members of the Commission will be presenting on the topics and themes discussed by the Commission over the course of the past year; speaker names and sessions will be shared on LinkedIn and on Eventbrite over the coming weeks.

The event will explore:

  • How to tackle racism and exclusion in student accommodation and how this contributes to institution-wide race equality programmes;
  • Actions to create a more attractive accommodation offer for Black students and improve overall student satisfaction; and
  • How to benefit from pilot work and national actions developed by the Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University and Newcastle University.

The afternoon session will give delegates the opportunity to experience training that is being rolled out across Unite Students. Designed specifically for those in management roles in the student accommodation sector, this training will deliver skills on conscious inclusion, leading inclusively and managing a diverse team, and designing inclusive spaces for students.

We look forward to welcoming colleagues from across the sector to this free event and exploring what race equality efforts look like in student accommodation. By working to achieve the recommendations of the Living Black at University report, we can contribute towards closing the awarding gap, building a relationship of trust with Black students, and providing them with a home where they are safe and can belong.

Register for this event now on Eventbrite.

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