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See below for a summary of the speakers & abstracts of the student and staff panels which were held on the day. Please note, the link to the powerpoint presentations are only visible to Cambridge staff & students, if you are visiting this page from outside the institution, please email for the slides to be sent to you via email. 

Panel 1 - What does the data tell us?

The speakers in this panel provided an overview of the institutional data available at Cambridge that gives an insight into the awarding gaps that impact Black students, where they are statistically less likely than their white peers to be awarded a First class undergraduate degree. The quantitative data gathered by the Cambridge Admissions Office and the Business Information Team reveal statistical patterns that will help us identify ‘explained’ and ‘unexplained’ gaps in degree outcomes. To balance this, the qualitative data gathered by the student researchers over the last three years of  the APP Participatory Action Research Project help us develop our knowledge and understanding of the lived experiences of Black students at Cambridge, to better enhance their educational experiences and eliminate the awarding gaps.

Chaired by: Professor Toni Williams (Senior Tutor, Girton College)

Toni Williams joined Girton College on 1 October 2022, as Senior Tutor. She is one of about 40 Black female full professors (out of about 23,000 university staff at that rank) in the UK. Her academic discipline is Law, which she studied at Oxford University before undertaking a PhD in law and economics at Newcastle University.


Dr Katya Samoylova (Head of Business Information and Strategic Insights)

Katya has worked for the University since 2011 in data reporting and analysis roles. Currently she is leading the team responsible for preparation and submission of student data returns to statutory bodies, provision of internal business information on student numbers and examination results, as well as management of student number planning and fee setting processes. 

See Katya's slides here.


Dr Alexa Horner (Senior Researcher, Cambridge Admissions Office)

Alexa Horner has worked in the Cambridge Admissions Office as the Senior Researcher (Admissions and Widening Participation) since 2015. During this time her research topics have included undergraduate admissions ‘gaps’/under-representation at Cambridge, the impact of financial support at Cambridge, and whether differentially lower admissions offers might be justified at Cambridge for disadvantaged or under-represented groups. 

See Alexa's slides here.


Kayinsola Amoo-Peters (Cycle 2 APP PAR Project student researcher)

Kayinsola is an undergraduate student studying Human, Social and Political Sciences at Murray Edwards College. She contributed to Cycle 2 (2020-2021) of the APP PAR Project, working with a research team to investigate how different courses provided students with opportunities to discuss issues related to race across their curricula.

See Kayinsola's slides here. 



Panel 2 - What is Cambridge doing?

Chaired by: Lord Simon Woolley (Principal, Homerton College)


Lord Simon Woolley, Principal of Homerton College, was the Founding Director of Operation Black Vote, the internationally renowned campaigning NGO which he launched in 1996. Formerly an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner, in 2018 Lord Woolley was appointed to create and lead the UK Government’s pioneering Race Disparity Unit. The Unit collects, analyses and publishes data on how crime, education and health are affected by ethnicity. He is passionate about educational access and the importance of recognising and supporting marginalised potential.


Joe Cotton (Communications Officer, Wolfson College)

Joe Cotton is the Communications Officer at Wolfson College, having formerly managed communications for the Race Equality Network and the Department of Sociology, both at the University of Cambridge. He has been highly involved in supporting racial justice campaigns in Cambridge, including Decolonise Sociology, Black Cantabs, the End Everyday Racism campaign, the Black British Voices Project, and most recently the Black Advisory Hub as a member of their steering group.

His presentation explored the question 'How was decolonisation being defined in Cambridge during a high-point in momentum from 2017-2018?'. This research project paints a broad picture of a moment in  Cambridge where the decolonial agenda was being formed, advanced and contested. From public rallies and occupations to reading groups and curriculum debates, the meaning of 'decolonising Cambridge' was constructed in many different ways, and with highly varying scopes.

The CamDecolHub archive is an attempt to trace the emergence and development of decolonising initiatives in Cambridge since the initial #RhodesMustFall protests in 2015. The site contains a timeline of key events as well as links to departmental working groups and student societies involved in decolonising work. If you would be interested in contributing to the archive, please reach out at  


Jennifer Skinner (Library Manager, African Studies Library)

Jenni Skinner is the Library Manager of the African Studies Library, and spent the formative years of her career in librarianship at the Social & Political Sciences Library (2002-2015), University of Cambridge. The African Studies Library supports the research and teaching needs of the University’s Undergraduate and Postgraduate study of Africa, whilst being recognised as a modern Special Collection as part of the newly formed World Collections Department at Cambridge University Library. 

Jenni's presentation outlined the foundation and work of the Decolonising through Critical Librarianship group, and the Cambridge University Libraries Decolonisation Working Group. She also drew upon the project work linked to colonial photographic collections held at the University Library.


Isabelle Higgins (PhD candidate, Sociology)

Isabelle Higgins is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Cambridge. She holds a double first-class honours degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology, and a master’s degree in the Sociology of Marginality and Exclusion from the University of Cambridge. Her current research, which she began as an undergraduate, focuses on examining the digital mediation of transracial and transnational inequality in the USA, with a specific focus on exploring some of the ways in which intersectional inequalities are reproduced in digital environments.

Isabel's presentation reflected upon her experience designing and delivering two sets of teaching within the University of Cambridge: a course on 'Decoloniality in Social Science Research Methods' for graduate students, and 'study skills' sessions for undergraduate students in the social sciences.


Dr Sanchita Pal (Clinical Communications Skills Lead, Medical School)

Dr Sanchita is passionate about medical education and teaching. Her current role at the medical school is as clinical communication skill (CCS) lead. She has been leading in developing the CCS session on racism, micro-aggressions,  and bystander training (titled practical approaches towards equality, diversity, and inclusion); as well as having a key role in the faculty development work in this area. 

Her presentation demonstrated the key drivers towards the clinical school initiative to tackle racism in medicine; mainly an open letter signed by over 2000 students at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. An accompanying confidential survey exposed incidents of racism encountered by medical students. She explored the development of effective and sustainable strategy to begin addressing racism experienced by students and faculty. From this, they established several Racism in Medical Education working groups comprising faculty and students, to address curriculum development, support systems, Implicit Bias (IB) and Active Bystander training (ABT) alongside faculty development.