Warwick University careers adviser at centre of racism row after law student claims she was singled out for being black

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By Katie King on

Exclusive: Adviser allegedly quoted research and suggested BME candidates submit applications later than their white peers

Image via Instagram @universityofwarwick

A law student at the University of Warwick has accused her careers adviser of racism after allegedly suggesting during a seminar that black candidates tend to submit job applications closer to deadlines than their white peers.

The careers adviser is said to have namechecked Linklaters-backed research about unconscious biases, with the firm subsequently telling Legal Cheek that it is “not in a position to comment on how the research was used or presented by Warwick University”.

The university has told us it’s aware of these accusations but to date no complaint has been raised directly with the university.

The student in question, Mariam Abiru, is in her final year of a law degree at Warwick University. In a tweet that’s garnered hundreds of retweets and comments, she began a thread describing an alleged incident that took place at a careers seminar this week:

Abiru claims a Warwick careers officer discussed with students the disadvantages of handing in an application close to the deadline. Then, she claims:

A spokesperson for Linklaters told Legal Cheek:

We are proud of the work we have done to encourage people of all backgrounds to apply for opportunities at the firm but we recognise there is more to do to help improve diversity at Linklaters and across our industry. An important part of our efforts is dedicated to researching and understanding how people of different backgrounds, including ethnicity, experience our recruitment and training process. Where the research highlights differences, such as the timing of when applications are made that may have had an impact on Linklaters’ ability to recruit students, we are able to make improvements to our processes to help remove those barriers. We will continue to make every effort to ensure we recruit and retain the very best talent, regardless of ethnicity or gender. Understanding the often invisible or unconscious biases that people from any minority have to overcome is a vital component of those efforts

The student, who was schooled in Nigeria, also alleges the careers adviser said she’d been told black people are generally laid back. The thread continues:

Later, Abiru says the careers adviser started trying to back track. She then says:

Legal Cheek has taken steps to contact the student in question, but these have so far been unsuccessful. We have also reached out to the careers adviser for her response to the allegations, which we hope to publish as soon as possible. Meantime, a spokesperson for Warwick University told us:

The university is aware of reports of concerns about the content of a careers advice session in the university’s school of law. To date no complaint or concern has been raised directly with the university, nor the school of law, and we would encourage any student who has such a concern to make contact as soon as possible with the chair of the school or any other appropriate university officer so we can hear, be fully informed of, and address any such concerns.

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