NUS wants coursework to be submitted anonymously
25th May 2011: In what is being seen as an evidence of existence of racism, a report by the National Union of Students suggests "foreign-sounding name" can cost students marks. For cutting down on the bias, the union has now recommended that the university coursework should be marked anonymously.
The report has also asked the varsities to initiate steps to minimise "eurocentric bias" while drawing up curriculums
The report, Race for Equality, is based on a survey of 900 students with African, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds. As per the findings of the survey, a majority of the students were positive about their institutions. But 23 per cent said the universities they attended were. Seven per cent believed the institutes to be "racist".
The report also came across evidence of widespread frustration as the courses did not reflect non-white backgrounds and views.
According to the Guardian, the survey also found that a third of the black students felt they were unable to bring a perspective based on their race to tutorials.
The report quoted a student blaming the university he attended for not being able to express or hear their own experience in learning – especially with a discipline as subjective as English, being told ‘you are wrong’ at the slightest transgression from the norm.
A majority of the students participating in the survey also sought more diverse perspectives in areas such as history, arts and politics.
A student was quoted as saying Britain colonised most of the world and played a heavy role in the slave trade. How can one understand contemporary Britain without acknowledging this history or understanding how the rest of the world shaped it?
The assertion on marking university coursework anonymously is significant as the NUS wants “anonymity” to be extended across all "assessment procedures", including coursework. Currently, universities only assess exams anonymously following concerns regarding preconceptions relating to race, sex or previous knowledge of a candidate.
The report states: "This is critical, not only to demonstrate to black students that their learning reflects their own experience, but to promote understanding among their white peers.
The NUS agrees keeping every form of assessment, such as presentations by drama students, anonymous is impossible. But at the same time it is asking the varsities to address concerns regarding bias by having contested work reassessed by a different lecturer.