In August 2022, The University of Sheffield’s (TUoS) Centre for Equity and Inclusion commissioned an independent researcher, Dr Carlette Norwood Ritter, to evaluate supervisor relationships with TUoS post-graduate researchers (PGRs) from racially marginalised backgrounds. The resulting report reveals that racially marginalised PGRs, across a diverse sample, often experience overt racism, microaggressions, stereotyping and/or other forms of racial abuse from their supervisors, and feel bullied, intimidated, and fearful.

Some participants described their experiences with supervisors as being hostile and racially abusive, and struggled for feelings of academic satisfaction and progress against a background of microaggressive behaviour. Racial abuse, and the PGRs’ subsequent emotive responses, were described similarly, irrespective of PGR age, university faculty, or length of time in a programme. However, the impact was particularly strong for non-British students who simultaneously experienced culture shock and racism for the first time. The report documents participants’ suggestions for improving the situation and promoting healthier and more productive supervisory relationships. These include recommendations for mandatory anti-racism workshops for PGR supervisors and better mechanisms for PGRs to report their experiences while simultaneously being protected from potential repercussions. The Centre for Equity & Inclusion is now working with the University to ensure these recommendations are realised. 

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