Bullying in higher education

December 18, 2014 in Blog, Gus in the Media, Highlights, Print by Gus John

We should be worried about the competence of those running our universities, says Gus John, who identifies three reasons why bullying goes unchecked in academia.

‘Publish or perish’ research culture in universities is damaging staff morale. Photograph: Donna Yates/Donna Yates

‘Publish or perish’ research culture in universities is damaging staff morale. Photograph: Donna Yates/Donna Yates

The results of the Guardian higher education network’s survey on bullying in higher education should give the entire sector cause to worry about the competence and style of leaders and managers in the sector.

As someone who has examined the equality policies and action plans of every institution in the UK in the last 12 years, I identify three key problems:

1) University leaders put money ahead of learning

Vice-chancellors, provosts and principals are running institutions that see themselves more and more as corporations or conglomerates. They are not understanding that financial management and brand leadership should not displace the fact that universities are first and foremost learning communities – and that the principal function of education is to humanise society.

Management competence must be measured as much as anything else by senior managers’ capacity to demonstrate a knowledge of employment law and acceptable practice, and its convergence with equality and human rights legislation. They need to know how they would ensure that it forms the foundation on which they set about building and sustaining a culture of equity. Read the rest of this entry →

Professor Gus John excels in GDIL lecture

August 3, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print by Gus John

"The Hub Building, Coventry University" by Ian Halsey MMXIII (Flickr)

“The Hub Building, Coventry University” by Ian Halsey MMXIII (Flickr)

On the 15th May, the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society (BES) of Coventry University was especially privileged to welcome the UK’s doyen of cross-cultural education, equality and human rights, Professor Gus John, as the distinguished speaker for the final MSc GDIL lecture, coordinated by Course Director Terry Brathwaite, in conjunction with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Professor Stuart Weinstein and the Law School, as well as the Warwickshire Law Society.

Effectively chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) Professor Ian Dunn, the GDIL Lecture entitled “Promoting Equity of Access to Justice – the Challenge” provided an exclusive platform for approximately 177 registered attendees to be the first audience that Prof John spoke to about his ground-breaking research – an Independent Comparative Case Review – commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2012.

The regulator of 100,000 or so solicitors in England and Wales, the SRA was keen for Prof Gus John to determine if there is any disparity in its regulatory decision-making between black and minority ethnic (BME) and white solicitors. Prof John had previously carried out a similar exercise for the Crown Prosecution Service, in addition to chairing the equality, diversity and social mobility advisory group for the Legal Education and Training Review commissioned by the SRA, with the Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards.  Read the rest of this entry →

Birmingham schools: have extremists taken over?

June 11, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Television by Gus John

Earlier this month, the school’s regulator OFSTED released their report on 21 Birmingham schools, after allegations of pupils being vulnerable to ‘Islamic extremism’. It was triggered by a mysterious letter stating that a small group of Islamic fundamentalists had taken over the management of the schools, and were forcing them to teach under religious, rather than secular principles.

Many staff in Birmingham’s schools have hit out against these statements. They say that the whole issue has been grossly over-exaggerated, and that there was little evidence of any Islamic takeover. Many have also said that the incident is being used as a political football ahead of next year’s general election, and that it has deeply distressed many of their pupils taking exams.

So what did happen in Birmingham? Did politicians and the media distort and sensationalise the events? And what kind of effect will it have not just in Birmingham’s schools, but in other areas with a high percentage of Muslim pupils? Read the rest of this entry →

Uncovering the truth of Walter Rodney’s ‘assassination’

May 10, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print by Gus John

The following article was published by The Voice on May 4th, 2014

Image captured from The Voice's website

Click here to read The Voice

A COMMITTEE to aid an inquiry into the alleged assassination of prominent international activist Walter Rodney has called for “vigilance” to insure the investigation uncovers the truth.

The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee (JWRC) was launched last month to support the inquiry, which began on April 28, into the death of the historian and political activist.

Rodney, author of seminal texts The Groundings With My Brothers (1969) and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972), was killed in what is being called a ‘suspected assassination’ in Georgetown, Guyana on June 13, 1980, when an explosive device concealed in a walkie-talkie radio went off.

The former professor of the University of the West Indies, had challenged the then Forbes Burnham administration in Guyana, forming a new political group, the Working People’s Alliance, whose influence spread to the rest of the Caribbean, the US, Africa and Europe.

The Commission of Inquiry into his death was set up in June 2013 by Guyana’s president Donald Ramotar, following a request by the family.

The three-member commission comprises top Barbadian attorney, Sir Richard Cheltenham QC, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown QC from Jamaica and Trinidadian senior counsel Seenath Jairam. Read the rest of this entry →

John rages at ‘illiterate rantings’ of diversity report critics

May 8, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print by Gus John


The following article was published by The Law Society Gazette on April 8th, 2014

The author of a report clearing the Solicitors Regulation Authority of institutional racism has hit back at the ‘wild and baseless claims’ of its critics, branding them ‘illiterate rantings’.

In a lengthy defence of his 237-page report into the disproportionate representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) lawyers in the SRA’s regulatory activity, Professor Gus John said the ‘kindest’ thing that can be said about the ‘illiterate rantings’ of the diversity groups’ response, is that they ‘did not bother’ to read the report before issuing the response.

The Law Society Gazette

Click here to read The Law Society Gazette

John’s report, published last month, found that BME solicitors are disproportionately represented among those investigated by the SRA and receive harsher sanctions. But he suggested that the regulator is not institutionally racist.

John said the problem lies instead in wider socio-economic factors which mean BME solicitors are over-represented in small firms or are sole practitioners. Both constituencies encounter greater regulatory intervention.

The Equality Implementation Group (EIG), comprising six groups representing BME solicitors, dismissed as ‘fundamentally flawed’ John’s report, which they claimed lacked any ‘evidential basis or data’ for its findings. They said his failure to draw any inference of institutional racism was a ‘shocking indictment of a costly report that promised much but has delivered very little of value’.

John said he had met members of the group and provided them with regular updates throughout the course of the review. Read the rest of this entry →