CUBO and Unite agree Living Black at University Partnership

25 April 2024      Bethany Hancock, CUBO Communications Officer

CUBO and Unite Students will jointly lead a new phase of the Living Black at University Commission, which over the last two years has set a new standard for inclusion and anti-racist practices in student accommodation. The new partnership will take further national action to support equity, inclusion and belonging in student accommodation and wider campus services across the UK.


The Living Black at University research, published in 2022, found evidence of racism, cultural insensitivity and exclusion in university and privately run student accommodation, leading to an 18 percentage-point difference in sense of belonging between Black and White students. Three quarters of Black students said that racism had an impact on their mental health.

In response, Unite Students set up a national Commission, formed of decision-makers from across the HE sector. The Commission concluded the first phase of its work in autumn 2023 with a series of toolkits and a report sharing good practice and case study examples from across the sector.

Partnership aims

The Commission’s second phase will see further action taken on inclusion in student accommodation and other campus services, such as catering, retail, sport, soft FM and customer services. Outputs will include further guidance and toolkits, a national conference, a survey of campus services staff and support for greater cultural competence and more inclusive hiring and career development practices within the sector. In common with the first phase of the Commission, there will be an emphasis on listening to student and working in partnership to create change.

Carol Thomas, incoming Chair of the Commission, said: “If you could see the smile on my face you would appreciate how thrilled I am. This new partnership and the new phase of the Living Black Commission is a positive shift for the sector. It will provide a framework enabling the sector to contribute to the success of Black students."

Kirsty Woodward, Chair of CUBO, said “It is so important for us to continue to create change and take action to support equity, inclusion and belonging. Whilst the work of Living Black at University was embedded in student accommodation we believe the new partnership between CUBO and Unite Students will see a much wider remit across campus services in the UK, reflecting the portfolios of our members. I am so thrilled that Carol Thomas, the new Chair of the Living Black Commission is also our CUBO Board lead for EDI. The work Carol has done to raise awareness of the issues faced by our Black students is immense.”

Jenny Shaw, HE External Engagement Director, The Unite Group, said "We are very excited to be working in partnership with CUBO in this new phase of the Living Black at University Commission. Together we have an opportunity to embed and extend the great work that’s already underway in student accommodation to ensure a truly inclusive living experience for Black students.”  

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