Our University is part of a new national Race Equality Charter Mark to improve the representation, progression and success of black and minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.
The continued existence of racial inequalities in higher education limits both minority ethnic individuals and the sector as a whole in fulfilling its full potential and the race equality charter mark aims to inspire a strategic approach to making cultural and systemic changes that will make a real difference to minority ethnic staff and students.
Our university is one of 26 institutions taking part in the newly created Race Equality Charter Mark, supported by the Equality Challenge Unit. This is a national recognition scheme which promotes commitment and progression towards race equality. It requires participating institutions to undertake the self-assessment of staff and student data to inform an action plan which is considered by a panel to determine the level of award to be made.
Participation has provided us with the opportunity to assess our existing position in relation to race and ethnicity against the award criteria and most importantly, informed b y this to develop our action plan for the next 3 years. The submission process has been overseen by a cross institution self-assessment team, chaired by our Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Smith. Full details of the group membership are in the terms of reference.
A key role for the Self-Assessment Team (SAT) has been to review our staff and student data and to co-ordinate a staff/student survey. This was an integral part of the process and was sent to all staff and students. We also elected to undertake a series of follow-up focus groups with staff and students from a minority ethnic background to understand more fully what it means to work and study here.
We have applied for a bronze award and our full submission document can be viewed here. The ECU intend to inform institutions of the outcome in July but in the meantime work has already begun on implementing our action plan which the SAT will continue to oversee and develop.
Our online survey was sent to all staff and students in November and generated 511 responses of which 272 included details of ethnicity which were then analysed. Several staff and students had taken time to provide free text commentary which helped with identifying a number of key themes. For staff, career progression and recruitment and selection were both flagged as areas to follow up. For students the main area for discussion was in relation to how to improve integration between home and international students.
We felt it was important to ask staff and students for their views and input in addition to the online survey. A number of focus groups for staff and students were held in January and February to give those who wished to take part a voice. Our staff focus groups were facilitated by an independent advisor, Dr Deborah Gabriel, who is the founder of Black British Academics and is a former journalist and PR specialist with expertise in race equality and social justice.
The Equality Challenge Unit is a registered charity, funded through the UK higher education funding bodies and representative organisations. They work to support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education and provide a central resource and guidance for the sector. Further information and publications can be found through their website including staff and student statistical reports using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).