+44 020 3930 8303

University of Northampton

Case Study
Living Black at University - University of Northampton

The death of George Floyd in 2020 had a profound effect on the awareness of institutional racism. Students and staff, especially Black and minority ethnic students and staff, have been empowered to speak about their experiences and hold universities accountable.

On 3 February 2022, the HEPI-supported ‘Living Black at University’ report was released, commissioned by Unite Students, and researched and delivered by Halpin. The project aimed to study and report on Black students’ experiences of living in university accommodation and Black staff working in accommodation.

The University of Northampton commissioned Halpin Partnership to facilitate its own bespoke ‘Living Black at University’ research.

Our methodology included the following:

  • student survey
  • staff survey
  • focus groups
  • review of existing policies and training materials.

Our work found examples of good equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) practices in policies and training materials. There was, however, a lack of focus on specific protected characteristics, specifically race. Black students were more likely to have been the victims of racism and more likely to have witnessed racism. A significant minority of staff did not feel a sense of belonging to a community where they could express themselves authentically. More students and staff reported negative mental health impacts from racism than reported being a victim of racism. This meant that racism could indirectly affect mental health beyond the immediate victim.

We commend the University of Northampton for commissioning this review, for its reception of our findings, and for the great enthusiasm it has shown towards acting upon the outcomes and recommendations set out in our report.


  • A set of 10 recommendations
  • A detailed recommendations guidance
  • Two ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions delivered, specific to EDI
  • Training material and guidance provided
  • 6-month review of progress post project close