Our Voices Still Matter in Higher Education

The Race Inclusion Student Advisory Committee (RISAC), started from the passion to push for an anti-racist institution. In doing its work, it was very important to centre the voices of minority ethnic students in Swansea University as it was time for the Students’ Union to be an active participant in the change we wanted to see.

Our Voices Still Matter in Higher Education 

The Race Inclusion Student Advisory Committee (RISAC), started from the passion to push for an anti-racist institution. The idea was put forward in a VOX Students’ Conference competition, where I Students’ Union was granted £250 seed funding, to support the work of EDI. The goal of this committee comprises of; pushing for a decolonised curriculum, as well as increasing the welfare support for students of colour in Swansea University and supporting their progression. In doing this work, it was very important to centre the voices of minority ethnic students in Swansea University as it was time for the Students’ Union to be an active participant in the change we wanted to see.   

So far, we have been able to set up successful Reciprocal Mentoring sessions, between students of this committee, and members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in the University, including the Vice Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellors and Faculty Heads. SLT and their colleagues have been very supportive of this program, by not just filling their knowledge gaps, but by giving students of colour the confidence and space to express themselves.  

We piloted a Design Thinking project, with the SAILS department, led by the manager Alison Braddock, in collaboration with the Advance HE and HEFCW to take account of the lived experiences of our students of colour, centre our voices and drive positive change in the University. A unanimous decision was made by the project participants and members of RISAC to explore a ‘race awareness’ course; to improve the learning of other students on race and racial identities. The goal is to make a change through empowering people to educate themselves and become allies.   

Subsequently, a proposal was submitted to the Senior Leadership Team to fund Expanding Horizons scholarships, for minority ethnic students studying for Postgraduate Taught and Research courses to support progression in line with the Fee and Access plan. This was supported and approved, and more information will be disclosed as we progress. 

Currently, we are working with colleagues including the Pro Vice Chancellor, Martin Stringer, HEFCW and Advance HE to create an Action Plan to tackle racism and promote race equity in Swansea University.   

Closer to the end of what has been a long academic year, Swansea University won the Silver Award in the WhatUni Student Choice Awards, for Diversity & Inclusion and it is great to see some of the work done by the committee, was entered for the award, but the work has only just begun! 

To round up, here are some quotes from RISAC and SLT members on their experience with the reciprocal mentoring programme so far: 

“Working with the RISAC team has been a rewarding experience. It has given me an opportunity to be able to collaborate, discuss and share ideas among members.” 

“The mentor-mentee meetings have been a huge learning and explorative opportunity around race. One of my favourite conversations I had with them was about intersectionality (most specifically in STEM subjects) as I was able to relate and express my experiences and the changes I personally would like to see. During this, we also discussed the ethnicity attainment gap and how it may relate to Swansea University. It was an intriguing and educational topic and great to hear SLT members’ thoughts on how they would approach this issue within the University.” 

“Being part of the Design Thinking Project also gave me chance to hear other perspectives and experiences held within the University. It was also critical to meet with students to provide alternatives that could be used to promote awareness of racial matters.” 

“We both felt that the programme had been extremely valuable and that we had both learnt a great deal about the experiences and perspectives of one another. The structured format of the sessions was felt to be helpful, but this did allow us to chat more widely and to find out more about each other’s lives. We also appreciated that there were three members of the conversation as this allowed each of us to learn from one another and to encompass a wider range of experiences. Overall, it has been an extremely positive experience. Thank you very much for all the work that went into organising these mentoring opportunities, as it has been a real highlight of the year and very much appreciated.” 

“Reciprocal mentoring has been a very rewarding journey with my mentor/ mentee, an amazing young woman. As an American, it has been incredibly insightful to hear directly from a young woman from the BAME community. While the race relations are similar to the US, there are differences. The programme has helped me understand some of these differences as seen through the lens of members’ experiences. This understanding has directly impacted how I view the issues and search for solutions.” 

“Complementing the experiences shared with the information introduced during the mentoring sessions, has provided a framework for my thoughts on making the University a more inclusive community. Through positive, active engagements, such as cultural competency workshops and community volunteering opportunities, reverse mentoring has reinforced for me the need to take the burden of communicating off minority communities and imbue the University community with drive toward equality.” 

“I have learned a lot about the importance of communicating our issues or experiences and how much others (in this scenario, the Senior Leaders) are willing to hear our experiences. This is important because it has changed my view on whether it was possible to have racial issues/topics being discussed within the University. I definitely feel more encouraged that the University is starting to have these open racial discussions to provide help, solutions and more opportunities for minority ethnic students and that these changes will gradually be seen. The RISAC experience has made me more aware of what others are also experiencing and how some are similar to mine; hence not feeling alone”. 

 

Signed,  

Theresa O. Ogbekhiulu 

Education Officer 2019-2021 

 

Members and Mentees 

RISAC Members 

SLT Members  

Nyambura Mungai (Graduate Entry Medicine student, and Student Representative) 

Prof. Paul Boyle (Vice Chancellor) 

Muntaha Rahman (Law Student, Vice President of Commercial Law Society, and Social & Sports Officer of Islamic Society) 

Prof. Martin Stringer (Pro Vice Chancellor Education) 

Abigail Gitonga (Chem. Engineering student, and Vice President East-African society) 

Prof. Martin Stringer (Pro Vice Chancellor Education) 

Leonie Jacque Dindji (MA Childhood Studies, and Chevening Scholar) 

Prof. Helen Griffiths (Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation) 

Nidhi Iyengar (Applied Medical Scineces student, and Vice President of the Asian Society) 

Prof. Keith Lloyd (Exec Dean & Pro-Vice Chancellor for Faculty of Health and Life Sciences) 

Iqra Khlaid (Medical Sciences student, and Vice President of the ‘Make-a-Smile’ society. 

Prof. Ken Meisnner (Exec Dean & Pro-Vice Chancellor for Faculty of Science and Engineering) 

Jeevan Singh Mann (Law student, President of Punjabi society, and Vice President of Boxing Society) 

Prof. Elwen Evans QC (Exec Dean & Pro-Vice Chancellor for Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) 

Elana Twumwaa (Civil Engineering student) 

 Prof. Steve Wilks (Provost) 

Abida Khatun (Law Student, and Events Co-ordinator of the Islamic society) 

Sarah Jones (Director of Finance) 

Rodrigues Mbongopasi (Law student and Chair of RISAC) 

Andrew Rhodes- (Former Registrar and Chief Operating Officer) 

External Members 

Liza Leibowitz (Welfare Officer) 

Alison Braddock (Manager Swansea Academy of Inclusivity and Learner Success) 

Debbie Ricci-Jones (Head of Student Engagement) 

Emma Hughes- (Equality Advisor) 

Alanna Taylor- (Student Voice Co-ordinator- Democracy) 

Tomos Watson- (Student Voice Co-ordinator- Representation 

Theresa Ogbekhiulu (Co-chair, Education Officer) 

Mae? ein? Lleisiau ?Dal?yn? Bwysig? mewn? Addysg? Uwch?? 

Dechreuodd y Pwyllgor Cynghori Myfyrwyr Cynhwysiant Hil (RISAC) o'r angerdd i wthio am sefydliad gwrth-hiliol. Cyflwynwyd y syniad mewn cystadleuaeth Cynhadledd VOX Myfyrwyr, lle cafodd Undeb y Myfyrwyr gyllid o £250, i gefnogi gwaith EDI. Mae nod y pwyllgor hwn yn cynnwys, brwydro dros gwricwlwm wedi'i ddadwaddoli, cynyddu'r gefnogaeth les a chefnogi dilyniant myfyrwyr croenliw ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe. Wrth wneud y gwaith hwn, roedd yn bwysig iawn rhoi pwyslais ar leisiau myfyrwyr lleiafrifoedd ethnig ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe - roedd yn bryd bod yn gyfranogwr gweithredol yn y newid yr oeddem am ei weld.   

Hyd yn hyn, rydym wedi gallu sefydlu sesiynau Mentora Cyfochrog llwyddiannus rhwng myfyrwyr y pwyllgor hwn, ac aelodau o'r Uwch Dîm Arweinyddiaeth (UDA) yn y Brifysgol, gan gynnwys yr Is-Ganghellor, Dirprwy Is-Gangellorion a Phenaethiaid Cyfadran. Mae’r UDA a chydweithwyr wedi bod yn gefnogol iawn i'r rhaglen hon, nid yn unig yn llenwi eu bylchau mewn gwybodaeth, ond hefyd yn rhoi hyder a lle i fyfyrwyr croenliw fynegi eu hunain.   

Fe wnaethon ni dreialu prosiect Dylunio Meddwl, gydag adran SAILS, dan arweiniad Alison Braddock, mewn cydweithrediad ag Advance HE a HEFCW i ystyried profiadau byw ein myfyrwyr croenliw, rhoi pwyslais ar ein lleisiau, a gyrru newid cadarnhaol yn y Brifysgol. Gwnaethpwyd penderfyniad unfrydol gan gyfranogwyr y prosiect ac aelodau RISAC i archwilio cwrs ‘ymwybyddiaeth hil’ i wella dysgu myfyrwyr eraill ar hil a hunaniaethau hil. Y nod yw gwneud newid trwy rymuso pobl i addysgu eu hunain a dod yn gynghreiriaid.   

Cyflwynwyd cynnig i'r Uwch Dîm Arweinyddiaeth i ariannu ysgoloriaethau Ehangu Gorwelion, ar gyfer ysgoloriaethau Ôl-raddedig a Addysgir ac Ymchwil ar gyfer myfyrwyr lleiafrifoedd ethnig sydd wedi graddio o Brifysgol Abertawe i gefnogi gyda dilyniant, ac yn unol â'r cynllun Ffioedd a Mynediad. Gwnaed penderfyniad i gefnogi’r cynnig, cafodd ei gymeradwyo, a bydd mwy o wybodaeth yn cael ei datgelu.   

O ganlyniad, rydym yn gweithio gyda chydweithwyr gan gynnwys y Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor, Martin Stringer, HEFCW ac Advance HE i greu Cynllun Gweithredu i fynd i'r afael â hiliaeth ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe.  

Yn agosach at ddiwedd y flwyddyn, enillodd Prifysgol Abertawe'r Wobr Arian yng Ngwobrau Dewis Myfyrwyr WhatUni, am Amrywiaeth a Chynhwysiant, ac mae'n wych gweld peth o'r gwaith a wnaed gan y pwyllgor yn ymgeisio am y wobr, ond dim ond dechrau mae'r gwaith! 

I gloi, dyma rai dyfyniadau gan aelodau RISAC a’r UDA ar eu profiad gyda'r rhaglen fentora dwyochrog hyd yn hyn: 

“Mae gweithio gyda thîm RISAC wedi bod yn brofiad gwerth chweil. Mae wedi rhoi cyfle i mi allu cydweithredu, trafod a rhannu syniadau gydag aelodau.”  

“Mae'r cyfarfodydd mentor-mentai wedi bod yn gyfle dysgu ac archwiliadol enfawr o amgylch hil. Roedd un o fy hoff sgyrsiau a gefais gydag ef yn ymwneud â chroestoriadoldeb (yn fwyaf penodol mewn pynciau STEM) gan fy mod yn gallu uniaethu a mynegi fy mhrofiadau a'r newidiadau yr hoffwn yn bersonol eu gweld. Yn ystod hyn, buom hefyd yn trafod y bwlch cyrhaeddiad ethnigrwydd a sut y gallai fod yn gysylltiedig â Phrifysgol Abertawe. Roedd yn bwnc diddorol ac addysgiadol ac yn wych clywed meddyliau aelodau’r UDA ar sut y byddai'n mynd i'r afael â'r mater hwn o fewn y Brifysgol.” 

“Fe wnaeth bod yn rhan o’r Prosiect Meddwl Dylunio hefyd roi cyfle i mi glywed safbwyntiau a phrofiadau eraill yn y Brifysgol. Roedd hefyd yn hanfodol cwrdd â myfyrwyr i ddarparu dewisiadau amgen y gellid eu defnyddio i hyrwyddo ymwybyddiaeth o faterion hiliol.”   

“Roedd y ddau ohonom yn teimlo bod y rhaglen wedi bod yn hynod werthfawr a’n bod ni wedi dysgu llawer am brofiad a phersbectif ein gilydd. Teimlwyd bod fformat strwythuredig y sesiynau yn ddefnyddiol, ond roedd hyn yn caniatáu I ni sgwrsio'n ehangach a darganfod mwy am fywydau ein gilydd. Roeddem hefyd yn gwerthfawrogi bod tri aelod o'r sgwrs gan fod hyn yn caniatáu i bob un ohonom ddysgu oddi wrth ein gilydd ac i gwmpasu ystod ehangach o brofiadau. Ar y cyfan, mae wedi bod yn brofiad hynod gadarnhaol. Diolch yn fawr iawn am yr holl waith a aeth ymlaen i drefnu'r cyfleoedd mentora hyn, mae wedi bod yn uchafbwynt go iawn y flwyddyn ac rydw i'n ei werthfawrogi'n fawr”. 

“Mae mentora dwyochrog wedi bod yn daith werth chweil gyda fy mentor/mentai, merch ifanc anhygoel. Fel Americanwr, mae wedi bod yn hynod o fewnweledol clywed yn uniongyrchol gan fenyw ifanc o gymuned BAME. Er bod y cysylltiadau hiliol yn debyg i'r Unol Daleithiau, mae yna wahaniaethau. Mae’r rhaglen wedi fy helpu i ddeall rhai o’r gwahaniaethau hyn fel y gwelir trwy lens profiadau aelodau. Mae'r ddealltwriaeth hon wedi effeithio'n uniongyrchol ar sut rwy'n edrych ar y materion ac yn chwilio am atebion.   

Gan ategu'r profiadau a rannwyd, mae'r wybodaeth a gyflwynwyd yn ystod y sesiynau mentora wedi darparu fframwaith ar gyfer fy syniadau ar wneud y Brifysgol yn gymuned fwy cynhwysol. Trwy ymrwymiadau cadarnhaol, gweithredol fel gweithdai cymhwysedd diwylliannol a chyfleoedd gwirfoddoli cymunedol, mae’r system fentora wedi atgyfnerthu i mi yr angen i gymryd y baich o gyfathrebu oddi ar gymunedau lleiafrifol ac annog cymuned y Brifysgol i yrru tuag at gydraddoldeb." 

Llofnodwyd, 

Theresa O. Ogbekhiulu 

Swyddog Addysg 2019-2021 

 

Aelodau a Mentai 

Aelodau RISAC 

Aelodau’r Uwch Dîm Reoli 

Nyambura Mungai (Myfyriwr Mynediad at Feddygaeth a Chynrychiolydd Myfyrwyr) 

Yr Athro Paul Boyle (Is-Ganghellor) 

Muntaha Rahman (Myfyriwr yn y Gyfraith, Is-lywydd Cymdeithas y Gyfraith Masnachol a Swyddog Chwaraeon y Gymdeithas Islamaidd) 

Yr Athro Martin Stringer (Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor dros Addysg) 

Abigail Gitonga (Myfyriwr Peirianneg Cemegol ac Is-lywydd y Gymdeithas Dwyrain Affrig) 

Yr Athro Martin Stringer (Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor  dros Addysg) 

Leonie Jacque Dindji (Myfyriwr MA Astudiaethau Plentyndod ac Ysgolhaif Chevening) 

Yr Athro Helen Griffiths (Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor dros Ymchwil ac Arloesedd) 

Nidhi Iyengar (Myfyriwr y Gwyddorau Meddygol Cymhwysol ac Is-lywydd y Gymdeithas Asiaidd) 

Yr Athro Keith Lloyd (Deon Gweithredol a Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor y Gyfadran Iechyd a’r Gwyddorau Bywyd) 

Iqra Khlaid (Medical Sciences student, and Vice President of the ‘Make-a-Smile’ society. 

Yr Athro Ken Meisnner (Deon Gweithredol a Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor Cyfadran y Gwyddorau a Pheirianneg) 

Jeevan Singh Mann (Myfyriwr yn y Gyfraith, Llywydd y Gymdeithas Punjabi ac Is-lywydd y Gymdeithas Baffio) 

Yr Athro Elwen Evans QC (Deon Gweithredol a Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor Cyfadran y Dyniaethau a'r Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol) 

Elana Twumwaa (Myfyriwr Peirianneg Sifil) 

Yr Athro Steve Wilks (Profost) 

Abida Khatun (Myfyriwr yn y Gyfraith a Chydlynydd Digwyddiadau y Gymdeithas Islamaidd) 

Sarah Jones (Cyfarwyddwr Cyllid) 

Rodrigues Mbongopasi (Myfyriwr yn y Gyfraith a Chadeirydd RISAC) 

Andrew Rhodes (Cyn Gofrestrydd a Phrif Swyddog Gweithredu) 

Aelodau allannol 

Liza Leibowitz (Swyddog Lles) 

Alison Braddock (Manager Swansea Academy of Inclusivity and Learner Success) 

Debbie Ricci-Jones (Pennaeth Ymgystlliadau â Myfyrwyr) 

Emma Hughes- (Cynghorwr Cydraddoldeb) 

Alanna Taylor- (Cydlynydd Llais y Myfyrwyr – Democratiaeth) 

Tomos Watson- (Cydlynydd Llais y Myfyrwyr – Cynrychiolaeth) 

Theresa Ogbekhiulu (Cyd-gadeirydd, Swyddog Addysg)