Search Donate

Show results for
  • News
  • Videos
  • Action Alerts
  • Events
  • Resources
  • MEND

MENDtalks: Being Black and Muslim in Academia

MENDtalks: Being Black and Muslim in Academia

Categories: Past Event Articles

Monday October 26 2020

MEND recently hosted a webinar titled ‘Black and Muslim in Academia’, an enlightening discussion on the lived experience of three Black Muslim academics working in the UK Higher Education sector.

Research by the Equality Challenge Unit in 2017 showed not only the existence of a university attainment gap between white and BAME students, but also that BAME graduates are more likely than white peers to be unemployed 6 months after receiving their degree. Furthermore, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that only 2% of academics at all levels in UK Higher Education are Black and less than 1% of professors in UK universities are Black. Given these statistics on the unequal representation and outcomes of Black and other BAME students and academics, MEND decided to bring together speakers to discuss both the current reality of the sector and the way forward.

MEND Midlands working groups came together with a number of partners – Nigerian Muslim Forum UK and Islamic societies from the universities of Birmingham, Aston, Coventry, Leicester and De Montfort – to realise this event, which hosted Professor Yusuf Hakeem, Dr Aliyu Musa and Sister Aisha Abubakar, a PhD student and lecturer.

Facilitated by Munira Eid, Head of Marketing at University of Birmingham Islamic Society, the webinar focused largely on the challenges, successes and lessons learned by the three panellists during their career in academia. All of our speakers provided valuable insight on how Black Muslim students and academics can survive and thrive in an environment that is often rife with microaggressions and discrimination.

A key piece of advice that emerged from the session was the importance of strong networks and support systems. Professor Yusuf emphasised how useful it can be to have a network of people with which to share your thoughts, exchange help and offer exclusive opportunities for career and personal development. Sister Aisha highlighted the difficulties for international students in particular, who may be far from their family’s support. Aisha advised Black Muslim students to seek a support system which includes friends, colleagues and the formal support services offered by your university. She shared how she had been unaware of the help from the university that she was entitled to and so she encouraged Black Muslim students and academics to make sure they are aware of the resources available to them. Dr Aliyu also stressed the importance of mentors and role models for Black Muslims considering attending university or pursuing a career in academia. He explained that he had experienced first-hand the incredible impact of mentorship and peer support for Black Muslims considering university study.

In their reflections on the importance of mentors for Black Muslim students and young people, all three speakers unanimously encouraged Black Muslim youth to enter Higher Education as both students and professionals. While recognising the challenges Black Muslims face in the sector, the speakers emphasised the importance of improving the representation and lived experience of Black Muslims in the Higher Education space.

Thank you once again to our panellists Professor Yusuf, Sister Aisha and Dr Aliyu as well as to our facilitator Munira for their valuable contribution to the session.

The webinar is available to watch on demand here


Find out more about MEND, sign up to our email newsletter

Get all the latest news from MEND straight to your inbox. Sign up to our email newsletter for regular updates and events information