Steps to Anti-Racism: Santander Universities UK's Union Black course

Two students outside Clarence Pier arcade smiling

Students and staff at the University of Portsmouth expand their understanding of racism through Santander Universities UK’s Union Black course.

  • 13 July 2022
  • 3 min read

Hear from first-year Master’s student Odubela Oluwatobi on the learnings he will take away from Santander Universities UK’s Union Black course, created to increase understanding of Britain's Black cultures and strengthen anti-racism. 

Driving cultural change

Santander Universities UK’s Union Black: Britain’s Black Cultures and steps to anti-racism course was launched at the end of 2021 in response to the Universities UK Tackling racial harassment in higher education report. The free online course is designed to drive cultural change across the higher education sector and will reach up to four million staff and students over the next three years. The six-hour course explores Black British history, informing and challenging learners, whilst contributing to the anti-racism agenda.

The programme was developed by leading academics and other notable experts and stakeholders, including Shadow Secretary of State for Justice David Lammy MP, who was interviewed earlier this year by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Chris Chang as part of Portsmouth Bookfest. Among the committee members who guided the course were University of Portsmouth Chancellor, Karen Blackett, and Baroness Valerie Amos.

Students who completed the inaugural course had the chance to win one of 50 Santander Development Grants of £500 to support their studies. Portsmouth’s Odubela Oluwatobi was one of the lucky recipients.

Odubela Oluwatobi

Masters student Odubela Oluwatobi smiling in a selfie

The course was right for me, my career goals and my professional skills. I gained from completing the 16 modules on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and I believe I should never stop learning.

Odubela Oluwatoi, MSc Engineering Geology

I took part in the programme to enhance my career prospects and to understand the need for diversity in my desired profession. I want to contribute to fair treatment and opportunity for all. I aim to help eradicate prejudice and discrimination on the basis of an individual, or group of individual's, protected characteristics. 

I found the course to be genuinely inclusive and informed. The three key areas of focus: Leadership, Allyship and Networks, all shape the creation of a culture that champions diversity and everyday inclusion. The programme fosters an open discussion and learning about the challenges of racism.

Through the course, I learnt more about equality. I examined my attitudes about others and came to appreciate cultural references and how to use more accessible language. I can now better manage unacceptable behaviours that could lead to discrimination and give clarity to my contributions, to help ensure an inclusive and diverse environment

The scholarship award of £500 is supporting my educational progress. I put it towards my Rock Mechanics and Tunnelling coursework field trip to France. 

A more inclusive future

Congratulations to Odubela and the other students and staff who have completed the Union Black course. This programme will be freely available until 2024. 

To learn more about the University of Portsmouth’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, please visit our race equality webpage.