UEL turns to ‘TikTok-style’ videos to tackle racial inequity

Incoming first years at UEL will be offered micro-learning courses on microaggressions and bystander intervention

The University of East London (UEL) is bidding to improve on-campus inclusion by showing freshers “TikTok-style” videos on microaggressions and bystander intervention.

With in-person workshops and classic e-learning courses deemed not to have engaged with students, UEL is turning to micro-learning courses on the GoodCourse micro-learning platform.

Developers say that the scheme is designed to have the familiar feel of social media apps, with course content delivered in jargon-free language by “young, relatable personalities, many of whom are TikTok influencers”.

Professor Bugewa Apampa, dean for the Office of Institutional Equity at UEL, is the person behind the initiative.

“University is not just about knowledge, it’s also about becoming a global citizen,” she said. “We need to make more space for developmental activities that help promote people’s sense of belonging.

“The courses and the way they’re delivered by GoodCourse are a totally different proposition from anything else we’ve seen. They’re designed with the audience fully in mind, which makes them highly engaging. Crucially, students can take them straight on their phones in just four or five minutes a day – we all loved it.”

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UEL was one of the first institutions in the country to be recognised by Advanced HE for its engagement with the Race Equality Charter. It says that its teaching on microaggressions stems from a desire to tackle the kind of racial inequity found by a 2019 Universities UK report highlighting the awarding gap between students of different ethnicities at the vast majority of universities.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic student attainment at UK universities: #CLOSINGTHEGAP held that “it is imperative that difficult conversations about race, racial stereotypes, microaggressions and biases are held within universities, regardless of feelings of unease”.

This, claims UEL, is the primary impetus for the bystander intervention and microaggression training for students in this September’s intake.

UEL and GoodCourse “share the vision that campuses should be safe spaces for students to be able to learn and have positive life experiences,” said Chris Mansfield, GoodCourse co-founder.

“Driving real progress on inclusion and student safety requires a wholly new and holistic approach that is proven to engage students on such issues and gives them confidence in their university, which is why we’re so excited to partner with UEL.”

Pic: UEL

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