National Union of Students calls for universities to be 'decolonised' and end 'white privilege' in new manifesto that seeks to fix the UK's 'broken education system'

  • The NUS said more needs to be done to create a 'truly liberated education'
  • The manifesto calls for action to challenge 'racist structures' in higher education
  • The union pledged to support activists working to challenge those structures 

The National Union of Students claim UK universities are 'a product of colonialism' and are calling for action to challenge 'racist structures' in higher education institutions.

In a new manifesto, the NUS demands that higher education is 'decolonised' and says some parts 'have propagated systems that assure white privilege.' 

Zamzam Ibrahim, the NUS national president says the union has launched a campaign focusing on 'delivering a sustainable, accessible, life-long, funded solution' to fix what she calls the UK's 'broken education system.'

The call for change comes at a time when a number of campaigns have been launched calling on individual universities to examine whether courses are too dominated by a small group of perspectives, typically white and male, and should include a broader range of voices and writers - sometimes known as 'decolonising the curriculum'.

The National Union of Students claim UK universities are 'a product of colonialism' and are calling for action to challenge 'racist structures' in higher education institutions. In a new manifesto, the NUS demands higher education is 'decolonised' and says some parts 'have propagated systems that assure white privilege'

The National Union of Students claim UK universities are 'a product of colonialism' and are calling for action to challenge 'racist structures' in higher education institutions. In a new manifesto, the NUS demands higher education is 'decolonised' and says some parts 'have propagated systems that assure white privilege'

The union said while it feels universities have recognised there is a 'need to dismantle these systems,' 'thanks to NUS campaigning,' it wants more to be done to create in its words a truly liberated education, 'one that can thrive free from isolated attachment to western narratives.'

The manifesto also states says that the NUS will work to 'break down the barriers to succeeding in education and society'.

In a section entitled 'decolonising our education', it says: 'Our educational structures and institutions are a product of colonialism: some have directly profited from this, while others have propagated systems that assure white privilege.

'This is reflected in the racist barriers and structures students face, with the attainment gap the most striking symptom of race inequity.'  

The NUS has pledged to support activists working across the county, 'to understand, identify, and actively challenge the racist structures in our colleges and universities.

'We will ensure that these groups can collaborate and speak together about the future of our education,' the union said.    

The NUS's 10-point plan focuses on three areas overall, as well as 'breaking down the barriers to succeeding in education and society', these are 'building a movement to transform education' and 'breaking down the barriers to accessing education and taking part in society'.

Calling the education system broken, Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS national president (pictured above) said, 'While our plan contains ambitions beyond our year, it is founded in the reforms that members have told us they want, and the needs of today's and tomorrow's students'

Calling the education system broken, Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS national president (pictured above) said, 'While our plan contains ambitions beyond our year, it is founded in the reforms that members have told us they want, and the needs of today's and tomorrow's students'

The 18-page plan also covers issues such as funding; accessible and affordable housing and transport; health care and fair access to education.

The union highlighted action taken by SOAS, University of London, the higher education institution is described as the world's leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

'A joint report published by the NUS and vice-chancellors' group Universities UK (UUK) in May this year, looked at attainment of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students, noted that SOAS, University of London, has established an action plan outlining the institution's 'commitments to address the need for decolonisation within the school,' the union stated.  

Calling the UK education system broken, Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS national president said: 'While our external environment is somewhat turbulent, and continues to be uncertain, we've still been able to launch a priority campaign focused on delivering a sustainable, accessible, life-long, funded solution to our broken education system and our biggest ever annual voter registration campaign for young people, that's already showing results.

'While our plan contains ambitions beyond our year, it is founded in the reforms that members have told us they want, and the needs of today's and tomorrow's students.

'We'll be looking to work with our members and students more closely in coming months as we launch other initiatives that support the delivery of our 10-point plan.'  

Other 'decolonising the curriculum' campaigns have included the 'Rhodes Must Fall campaign', which called for institutions in Oxford and South Africa to remove statues of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes.   

Who is NUS President Zamzam Ibrahim?

Zamzam Ibrahim, 24, was elected in April of this year on a manifesto of calling for a student strike for free tuition.

Ms Ibrahim was previously president of the students' union at Salford University.    

She is the third female ethnic minority NUS leader in a row, taking the reins from Shakira Martin. 

Ms Ibrahim attended Bolton Sixth Form College. She attended Salford University to study business and financial management. 

Ms Ibrahim sparked controversy in 2017 when online posts she made as a 16-year-old came to light. These said she wanted to 'oppress white people' and see an 'Islamic takeover.' 

Ms Ibrahim said the online posts were 'taken out of context' and her views had changed.  

Writing after the furore she said: 'There's no doubt this collection of social media posts was supposed to make me seem like a fanatical Muslim and a threat to British society.

'I find it strange that I even have to clarify this, but for the avoidance of doubt I will [again]: the comments clearly do not reflect my views today.'

 

  

  

National Union of Students calls for universities to be 'decolonised' and end 'white privilege'

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