This journal entry post was prompted by an article published in Black British Academics, which is asking for evidence to be submitted to the British government's parliamentary committee. After reviewing the terms of inquiry and the submission process, decided to write an open letter on this web log.
This author is an un-employed researcher within the area of renewable energy engineering, having recently completed a research contract in Africa. It may be of interest to know that a contributing factor for pursuing employment abroad was a lack of suitable opportunities to continue research within UK. The reason to respond to the request to submit evidence to the committe is due to an news article published by the Runnymede Trust and subsequently referred to by the aforementioned entity 'Black British Academics'
2 Challenges and experiences
As an undergraduate in a physical science subject, the author found the experience of UK higher education to be beneficial overall, but a largely lonely existence. Study of the physical sciences is a difficult, demanding endeavour which was felt to have been made even more so by the near total absence of peers to form lasting relationships in which to seek and provide support. Within the department, in four years of undergraduate study in a (now classified as) Russell Group university, this author encountered one other African (descendant) student and no such staff member. For the purposes of this document, “African (descendant)” is defined as persons of the African diaspora that may be born in African or Caribbean countries in addition to British-born citizens. Distinctions should also be noted in the diversity of Africans within the higher education sector, comprising African-born students of an upper social class in their home countries (mostly characterised by being recipients of private sector, high quality education) and British-born student descendants of immigrants that attended public sector state schools.
Following a period of approximately ten years in business employment, this author returned to academic study, for doctoral research. This decision was spurred by a number of decisions: un-satisfactory career progression; desire to change career; pursue a personal development target attainment. Following successful completion of doctoral research, employment was found only for a short-term, temporary contract of secondary relevance to the research expertise. As indicated previously, the decision to seek employment beyond Europe was only partially driven by a lack of suitable employment opportunities; it was always the opinion of this author that seeking international experience would be rewarding both personally and in terms of professional career development. This author is of the opinion that if there are opportunities abroad, go!
3 University education value
The perceived value ascribed to university education is over-emphasised. Without the necessary open and meritocratic employment opportunities in Europe, there is a risk (not exclusive to specific communities of peoples) that skilled people will simply seek opportunities elsewhere. Nevertheless, the intrinsic value of university education towards personal development should always remain per se a laudable aim.
4 Review of applicants to the tertiary education sector
This author has no comment to make regarding review of applicants.
5 Determination of the need, if any, for interventions
This author has no comment to make about interventions.