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Race Equality Charter FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Race Equality Charter

Membership of ECU’s Race Equality Charter >

How do I become a member?

To join ECU’s Race Equality Charter, we require a letter of endorsement from the vice-chancellor, principal, director (or equivalent) of your institution.

The letter confirms your institution’s acceptance of the five guiding Charter principles, a commitment to these at the highest level, and how you have consulted key stakeholders on the commitment required from them for a successful submission.

The letter also commits your institution to applying for a Bronze REC award within three years of the letter.

Upon receiving the letter, we will send you a welcome pack with full membership information and the REC members’ logo.

What is the difference between becoming a member and applying for an award?

ECU recognises that undertaking a self-assessment and applying for an award takes time. The starting point is agreeing to the five guiding Charter principles by sending a letter of commitment from the head of your institution (a draft letter template is available in the Resources section). From that point your institution is officially a member of ECU’s Race Equality Charter, with access to the members’ logo.

Once you are a member you will want to continue your work in race equality and work towards a full application. Members are expected to apply for a Bronze  award within three years of membership. Successful applicants become award holders and are able to use the relevant award logo.

What happens if we fail to apply within three years of membership?

If a member institution fails to apply within three years of membership, their Charter membership will be withdrawn. If there are extenuating circumstances, these should be discussed with ECU well in advance of membership expiring.

Starting an application >

Should we apply for a Bronze or Silver award?

We would expect your institution to start with a Bronze application before moving on to a Silver. The application form and process is the same for all levels, but the expectations are different.

A Bronze award recognises that the institution has a solid foundation for eliminating racial inequalities and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff and students. A Bronze award acknowledges commitment and preparation to act.

Applications should be candid about any issues identified and state clearly how they plan to address them. At Bronze level it is anticipated that your institution will have developed specific actions and initiatives, albeit these may not have yet been implemented.

In addition to the requirements for a Bronze award, a Silver award recognises a significant record of activity and achievement by the institution in promoting race equality and in addressing challenges across the whole institution. Applications should demonstrate that equality is well embedded within the institution with strong leadership in promoting the charter principles, and evidence of the impact of race equality activities. Crucially, where progress has been made, the institution should be able to trace the cause.

How long before submitting should we begin the process?

We estimate that for first-time applicants who are at the early stages of considering their race-specific work, it is likely to take 18 months to apply for an award, from the point at which the self assessment team has been convened. Institutions need time to assess what issues might exist and to determine what to do in response.

If you have a track record in race equality and have already begun developing actions in response, the process may be quicker.

ECU’s Race Equality Charter includes both staff and student-focused sections. To achieve a Bronze award your institution will need to meet Bronze standard across the piece (albeit it is likely that some areas will be more developed than others).

How long before submitting should we conduct our survey?

We expect institutions to run the survey before applying to the Charter, and before re-applying every three years. The timing of the survey is important and you will want to spend time analysing the results as part of your self-assessment. We would therefore anticipate you running the survey up to a year ahead of your actual application submission.

Institutions that are unsuccessful may want to resubmit before it would be viable for them to rerun the survey. In these instances, the original survey data is valid for two years. For example, if you run a survey in February 2016 and apply in February 2017, the survey data would be valid for a resubmission in July 2017, or February 2018 (which is two years after the original survey was conducted).

After this point institutions should rerun the survey to ensure the results are up-to-date.

Is there a fee for applications?

For universities in England and Northern Ireland

From 1 January 2016 higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland will need to subscribe directly to ECU to continue to access our services, resources, advice and to take part in our equality charters including the Race Equality Charter.

For subscribing institutions, Race Equality Charter applications are free of charge.

For universities in Scotland

In Scotland, ECU is funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Subsequently universities in Scotland will not have to subscribe to ECU’s services.

Universities that would like to apply to ECU’s Race Equality Charter will be charged £2000 per annum.

For universities in Wales

We have agreed funding in Wales until Summer 2016, and until that point Welsh institutions will be charged £2000 per annum to apply for ECU’s Race Equality Charter.

Using the trial materials >

Can we apply using the trial application form?

Institutions that took part in the trial can apply for an award using the trial application form for the July 2016 round. After this all applications will need to be made using the new form.

What are the main differences between the trial application form and the new form?

The content of the trial application form is largely the same, although the order of the information has changed slightly.

The main differences are:

  • We no longer ask for any data at departmental level. However, we do require data at faculty level where this is possible.
  • We expect to see high-level comments from heads of faculty throughout the application.
  • We now ask for admissions data on undergraduate students. At Bronze level, we want to see if ethnicity impacts on the likelihood of an offer being made. At Silver level, we anticipate this being expanded to look at the impact of interview
  • We now ask for some destination of leavers data, specifically, employment and professional-level employment levels six months after graduation.
  • The word count has been increased to 14,000 words for Bronze applications and 16,000 for Silver.
  • There is no need to anonymise your application.

The survey remains a mandatory part of applying, although the questions have been reduced and changed slightly. Institutions also have more freedom in how the survey is conducted.

Do applications have to be anonymised?

No, applications no longer need to be anonymised. The context of your institution is an integral part of your application, and it is important that your application is not constrained in the information it can provide.

Can we use the trial survey?

Any institution that has already conducted their survey, or planned their survey, using the trial survey template can use that data for the July 2016 and February 2017 submission rounds.

After this point, institutions should conduct the survey again, using the new template.

Word counts for Race Equality Charter applications >

Are word limits flexible?

The total word limits:

  • Bronze applications: 14,000 words
  • Silver applications: 16,000 words.

We do not stipulate how the words should be spread over each section, it is for you to decide. At the end of every section, please state how many words you have used in that section.

What is included in the word count?

The word count includes:

  • All aspects of the application:
    • letter of endorsement
    • institutional description
    • local context and all subsequent sections
    • footnotes or other types of reference
  • Any standalone prose included in tables

The word count excludes:

  • Details of the members of your self-assessment team, presented as a table using a maximum of 30 words for each team member.
  • Tables and graphs with data, providing they do not include standalone text or prose. Any text included within the table should only make sense within the context of the table or graph (for example, titles and data labels).
  • The full action plan. Your actions should be embedded throughout the application form. The action plan provides a summary of all actions, complete with information on ownership and timings and should be provided as an annex.
  • Qualitative quotes used throughout your application. Individual quotes must not exceed 50 words, and institutions should be discerning in the number of quotes used. It is not anticipated that institutions will use more than four or five quotes in relevant sections.

Can we apply for a word extension?

Requests for additional word allowances to account for exceptional circumstances are considered on a case-by-case basis. Examples of where such awards may be made include where a restructure has recently taken place, or where the submitting institution has a unique or unusual structure, or is subject to particular constraints.

If granted, additional words should only be used to explain how the special circumstances have impacted or been taken into account with respect to Race Equality Charter activities and the progression of race equality.

Applicants who wish to extend their word limit in this way should contact ECU’s Equality Charters team for approval at least two months in advance of the submission deadline. Where additional words are granted, the increased allowance will be at the discretion of ECU.

Are quotes included in the word count?

Qualitative quotes are excluded from the word count. Individual quotes must not exceed 50 words, and institutions should be discerning in the number of quotes used. It is not anticipated that institutions will use more than four or five quotes in relevant sections.

Data for Race Equality Charter applications >

Does data need to be broken down by UK/non-UK staff and students?

Yes. We know that UK and international staff and students can have very different experiences in UK higher education. Attempting to analyse combined data may lead to issues being overlooked or misinterpreting trends that are identified.

Considering UK and non-UK staff and students helps to ensure that solutions are appropriate and targeted in the right way.

Our numbers of minority ethnic staff and/or students are small, do we have to disaggregate into specific ethnic groups?

Where possible, yes. We realise that some institutions will have very small numbers of minority ethnic staff and students and that can make data analysis difficult. At institutional level, please try to analyse the data in as much detail as possible.

Where this is not possible, please explain that in your commentary and explain how your institution has progressed analysis and understanding and developed your aims and actions.

What should we benchmark against?

We would anticipate benchmarking your professional and support staff against local population data, with some consideration given to where your staff commute from, to get a sense of the diversity of your applicant population.

For academic staff we would anticipate your institution being able to recruit from further afield, albeit acknowledging the potential limitations of your geographic location.

For students, we would anticipate you understanding where you recruit your students from, and creating an appropriate benchmark. For example, if many of your students are recruited from the local community, that is what you should benchmark against. If you recruit your students from across the UK, we would anticipate you using national benchmarks.

There is no need to benchmark your international students, apart from comparing their performance and satisfaction with your national/UK students.

Do we have to supply faculty-level data?

Where it is possible to conduct faculty level analysis please provide this data, or provide an overview of the demographics in your commentary if the numbers are too small.

Intersectionality >

What does ECU mean by ‘intersectionality’?

People’s identities and social positions are shaped by several factors at the same time, creating unique experiences and perspectives. These factors include, among others, age, disability, gender identity, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion, sex and sexuality.

For example, the experiences of, and outcomes within, higher education will be very different for a Black woman compared to a white woman. In practice, intersectionality is less about bringing two different factors together, (eg older people and disabled people) and more about considering the experience of older disabled people, people at the ‘intersection’ of older age and disability.

What level of intersectionality detail is required within our application?

Within your Race Equality Charter application we expect intersectionality to be considered increasingly as you progress your race equality work. For first-time Bronze applicants, this consideration might be aspirational (for example to begin building in mechanisms to understand and explore intersectionality).

As institutions apply to renew their Bronze award or move on to a Silver award, this thinking should be respectively more advanced; strategies and actions should be more nuanced, reflecting the complexity of multiple identities.

Input from ECU >

What input can we expect from ECU’s Equality charters team?

ECU’s Equality charters team are happy to answer questions about membership or award applications by phone or email: Contact us. However, please read these FAQs and the awards handbook thoroughly in advance of getting in touch. Please note that staff will not comment on content of award submissions or read through submissions prior to the deadline.

The Equality charters team are receptive to invitations to attend events and workshops depending on capacity and will respond to invitations on a case-by-case basis.

Comprehensive feedback on submissions is given, whether successful or unsuccessful. The Equality charters team will attempt to field specific questions arising from the feedback, but are unable to comment on the panel’s judgment.

Please note that at peak times of the year (notably around submission deadlines and while assessment panels are taking place) it may take longer than usual to respond to your query.

Can a member of ECU staff look at our submission prior to the deadline?

ECU can advise applicants on the process and respond to specific queries about a submission. However, we cannot read through entire submissions or comment on content. Any input from the Race Equality Charter team is purely advisory, and will not affect the final decision of the panel.

What training and support will ECU be providing in the coming months?

ECU are holding a series of workshops about the Race Equality Charter. Further details can be found on our events page.

To ensure the robustness and the consistency of the review panels, ECU are in the process of training the review panel chairs and panellists.

Results >

When will the results be announced?

ECU aims to release the results five months after the submission deadline. Feedback is also sent for applications which were unsuccessful. For those that were successful both at the level applied for and at a lower level, the feedback will be sent after the results are announced.

Will our submission be published online?

Applicants that receive awards should publish their submission on their own websites and inform ECU of the associated web address. Any personal or confidential information may be removed from the submission prior to doing this.

Is there an appeals process?

There is now a process for appeals and objections. Our Guide to processes will be published shortly, contact racecharter@ecu.ac.uk for further details.

Award validity >

How long is our award valid for?

ECU’s Race Equality Charter awards are valid for three years from the application deadline.

Trial participants gained an award from their July 2015 submission, which will be valid until 31 July 2018.

Survey >

Can I change the questions in the survey?

You are required to conduct the body of the survey in its entirety, including all standard questions. While you are welcome to add questions to expand on an area, you may not delete any questions. We understand, however, that questions may need to be adapted to suit different institutional structures. If this is the case for your institution, please contact the Race Charter team to discuss and agree any changes to the survey before you make them.