In February, The Times reported that the Duchess was left feeling shocked after her visit to the ACU, upon learning of the lack of women and people of colour in professional roles within higher education. She reportedly expressed her support for a campaign which seeks to “decolonise the curriculum” and confront the legacy of empire and racism on university campuses.
Meghan’s concern is completely warranted. In 2018, the Australian Government Department of Education reported that there were 4,660 females above Senior Lecturer roles within our universities, compared to 8,995 males.
The ACU took to their Twitter page to share the Duchess’s letter with their thousands of followers. You can read Meghan’s World Access to Higher Education Day letter in full below.
Today, on World Access to Higher Education Day, we are able to celebrate the vital role that colleges and universities play in society and how important it is for all people, regardless of gender or socioeconomic background, to have the opportunity to access this higher education. The value of this cannot be understated. Because education expands mindsets, and those minds can then expand the scope of the world at large. From a micro to a macro level, it is with education that we see great change.
Earlier this year I met Simon Kiongo from Kenya, who grew up on a small family farm, and traded vegetables as a means of covering tuition costs. It struck me as such a prime example of how so many around the world yearn for education and do whatever they can to afford themselves that opportunity. Now, with support from the ACU, he is doing remarkable cancer research for his country, specifically looking at fertilizers in the food supply and the carcinogenic links that has on community health. Simon is higher education in action.
The ACU highlights journeys to belonging—looking at how universities can support access to higher education for those who are most vulnerable—be it refugees or those displaced.
Additionally the ACU continues to create opportunities for those within the university structure—the faculty and staff who require grants to maximize the impact of their research studies, and enabling students to exceed even their own expectations of what they can achieve.
I am proud to be patron of the ACU and all that it stands for, as we champion those seeking a higher education and commit to making this world a better place—together.
HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Patron of the ACU