Fighting fund banner


Professor Hakim Adi

Professor Hakim Adi and a Black History Masters Course at the University of Chichester

31 July 2023

We, members of the Black Members' Standing Committee of the University and College Union (UCU), are deeply concerned to learn about the treatment of Professor Hakim Adi and the Masters course in the History of Africa and the African Diaspora at University of Chichester.

We add our voices to the many campaigners that have sent an open letter to vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Jane Longmore and to the more than 8,000 signatures that have been collected in a petition opposing this shocking development. In agreement with the text of a motion tabled on 19 July 2023 for the House of Parliament, we too are disappointed at the way in which the university has chosen to tie Professor Adi's employment to this Masters course. Already employed as a member of the teaching staff by the university preceding the course's existence, Professor Adi ought not to be threatened with redundancy on the suspension of this course, an apparent cost cutting exercise.

It is rather cynical that in a time when Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is being given lip-service across Higher Education (HE) and the cost-of-living crisis hits Black Brits the hardest, a course created to train mature students of African and Caribbean heritage is chosen to be axed. The University of Chichester has not used the same criteria to review a course of similar status (MA Cultural History), which the University has protected and allowed to run. The university's suspension of the MRes, History of Africa and the African Diaspora, and threatened redundancy of Professor Adi raise questions not only about marketisation, but also issues of access, perceived priorities and, ultimately, matters which go to the heart of equity within HE. The University of Chichester's management, including VC, Professor Longmore, must provide an immediate answer to the following:

  • What impact assessment was undertaken by the University before the course was suspended and Professor Adi chosen for redundancy?
  • What was the process followed in selecting Professor Adi for redundancy?
  • What was the University's own criteria for suspending the course and making Prof Adi redundant?
  • What plans are the University making to admit Black students on to courses going forwards?

The MRes is not only unique within the UK, but also Europe, and has attracted many black students of African and Caribbean heritage. It was created following the recommendations of the 2015 History Matters conference and supported by the University of Chichester and its academic and wider community. It has already produced 6 black history PhD students at the University of Chichester, five of them still under Prof Adi's supervision. If Professor Adi is made redundant, this will cause serious detriment to his students and the University of Chichester, as he states: "there is nothing to replace it [the MRes]... [and] my current PhD and master's students will have no one to supervise them as no one else in the University has that expertise."

As the first African-British historian to become a professor of history in Britain, Professor Adi represents a pioneer in the field of black history whose teaching reaches under-represented communities within the UK education system—which surely is vital for broad HE initiatives to tackle what's commonly called the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic attainment gap. As such, the suspension of an MRes in African and African diaspora history is short-sighted and pushes against the grain of a general trend to 'Decolonise the Curriculum'.

UCU's Black Members' Standing Committee sends its solidarity to Professor Adi and call on:

  • the University of Chichester to keep Professor Adi in post as a professor of history.
  • the University of Chichester to rescind its decision to suspend and effectively shut down the MRes History of Africa and the African Diaspora. We further ask that the University properly promotes the MRes to ensure that the programme recruits effectively going forwards.
  • our UCU members to vigorously oppose the threats issued by the University of Chichester and the treatment of Professor Adi; to publicise the attack on one of its members as part of its campaign to oppose compulsory redundances at the University of Chichester and more widely.
  • our UCU members to sign the following petition to ensure that Professor Adi's job is protected and the University of Chichester reinstate its MRes, History of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Black Members' Standing Committee

Last updated: 31 July 2023