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Universities to defy government pressure to ditch race equality group

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‘Line has been crossed’ say English universities, after request to drop scheme identifying barriers to ethnic minority students

Universities in England have launched a fightback against government attacks on their autonomy, telling ministers they “crossed a line” by pressurising them to abandon a scheme designed to improve equality on campus.

In what may be a turning point in the so-called “culture wars” over free speech, Universities UK (UUK) took on the education minister Michelle Donelan after she warned them to reconsider membership of a race equality charter, run by the charity Advance HE.

The scheme – which counts the majority of Russell Group universities among its members – aims to identify barriers to success for black, Asian and minority ethnic students. But in a letter to vice-chancellors this week, Donelan claimed that membership of the charter was “in tension” with universities’ duties to uphold free speech.

In its letter of response on Thursday, Universities UK said: “An important line has been crossed with the letter appearing to direct universities to take a specific approach” on equalities.

In a later statement, UUK confirmed that it intended to ignore Donelan’s request and remain affiliated with Advance HE.A spokesperson for UUK said: “Universities take their responsibilities to […]

Click here to view original web page at www.theguardian.com

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