In May 2016, Birmingham City University announced it will be accepting applications for its new degree in ‘Black Studies’— the first of its kind in Europe. The course is said to be an interdisciplinary area of study that will look into migration of the African diaspora, black scholars, and the effects of economics within black communities. Estimated to parallel the popular and esteemed African-American study programmes present at the likes of Yale, Harvard, and Howard University, this programme is finally addressing an underlying problem within British education. More specifically, why black voices have long been ignored or overridden in academic spheres. As a Birmingham native, I have never been more proud to witness this advancement, but we cannot stand by the belief that its implementation is enough.
From #oscarssowhite to #rhodesmustfall, a spotlight has been shone on the lack of diversity and positive representation for POC across numerous institutions. Although these discussions have been catalysed in online spheres, the implications of these hashtags reference the real experiences of silencing and downplaying the importance of solidarity among BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people — particularly in student environments.
In 2015, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) conducted a study that suggested more BME students as opposed to White British students were enrolling in university — despite statistically ‘underperforming’ in academia. A general consensus made by researchers was that students from minority households have higher aspirations regarding education than their white counterparts, even with the increase made to tuition fees and the potential privatisation of student loans at hand.