Equalitylink July-August 2012
ECU's round-up of equality and diversity news, resources and our work with the sector
Welcome July-August 2012
Equality Challenge Unit works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education across all four nations of the UK, and in further education in Scotland. Equalitylink is a monthly round-up of equality and diversity news, resources and ECU’s work with the sector.
Male students don’t engage with support services
Services that aid retention used less by men
Men are less likely to start an undergraduate course, more likely to drop-out and more likely to get a 2:2 or a third class degree than women.
Recent research by ECU has also found that male students are less likely to access pastoral or academic support services that have been found to make a positive contribution to student’s experience, retention and success, particularly for minority ethnic students.
The report demonstrates that male students are less likely to be aware of, use or positively rate academic and pastoral support services. The research shows that diversifying the nature and delivery of the services provided can encourage men to make greater use of services. It also highlights the importance of the role of personal and academic tutors in referral to support services.
A better deal for disabled students
EU policy paper urges more action
A recently published European Commission policy paper calls for European Union member states to work harder at helping disabled students to gain university places and good degrees, with the target of equal proportions of disabled people as non-disabled in EU higher education.
Education and disability/special needs – policies and practices in education, training and employment for students with disabilities and special educational needs in the EU outlines how the life chances of disabled people improve considerably with higher education.
The report calls on the European Commission to encourage EU countries to be more proactive in ensuring disabled people succeed in higher education and ‘receive the necessary support to gain educational qualifications, since this is likely to improve their labour market position’.
Flexible working to support mental health
Initiative to encourage employers
The Department of Health has launched an initiative to encourage employers to offer flexible working to employees affected by mental health conditions. The aim is to support employees in their jobs, ease their return to work and to reduce sickness absences.
The Responsibility Deal pledge includes taking a flexible approach to start and finish times, allowing paid or unpaid leave for medical appointments, creating a better working environment by providing a quiet space for breaks, and supporting a phased return to work.
Homophobic bullying of young people continues
Stonewall school report 2012
Stonewall’s latest report on homophobia in schools has found that 55% of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) pupils in secondary schools and colleges experience homophobic bullying, 99% hear homophobic language and a quarter of young gay people report that this language isn’t challenged by teachers.
Higher education institutions have a role to play in ensuring that new students are aware that homophobic behaviour is not allowed on campus, and that LGB students feel safe and supported, especially in student accommodation. ECU has produced guidance and information leaflets for staff providing frontline services explaining the issues and suggesting top tips for an inclusive service.
Equality and diversity within HEFCE
Funding council publishes equality data for Board appointments
HEFCE has published equality and diversity information covering the composition of its Board and committees, as part of a commitment to promoting equality and diversity in all aspects of its work.
The data is the result of a voluntary request for monitoring data sent to members of the board and audit committee, strategic advisory committees and others. The completion and disclosure rate was 86%.
HEFCE will use the data to inform its future work, particularly in actions to encourage more diversity across boards and committees. The funding council stated, ‘While HEFCE compares favourably in the ethnicity, gender and disability categories, we also recognise that our equality and diversity data and these benchmarks are not yet fully reflective of the higher education community or the population as a whole.’
Access to Work extended to work experience
Support for disabled people on placements
Access to Work funding has been extended to cover disabled people on work experience placements to provide specially adapted equipment to help with daily tasks, support workers and interpreters.
An extra £15 million will also be added to the Access to Work scheme, with the aim of helping around 8,000 additional disabled people in paid employment.
Action on hate crime
Contribute to the Welsh government framework
The Welsh government is developing a framework for action against hate crime as part of its strategic equality plan. The framework will focus on preventing hate crime, increasing reporting, training and support, and improving operational response to hate crimes. It includes tackling hate crime against disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
The government is asking for people to contribute their views and experiences through an online survey, and would also like to hear about examples of projects that have been delivered across Wales or the UK to tackle hate crime.
The survey closes on 3 September 2012.
Honours for underrepresented groups
Call for nominations for BME and female staff
HEFCE has written to heads of all higher education institutions calling for nominations to the Birthday 2013 Honours List to recognise the contribution of people working in HE.
The letter encourages nominations for female candidates and for black and minority ethnic candidates at all levels. These groups are generally underrepresented in the nominations received.
Closing date: Friday 7 September 2012.
ECU conference 2012 – Registration now open
Enhancing reputation: adding value through equality
Registration has now opened for ECU’s 2012 national conference on 20-21 November 2012 in Nottingham.
The two-day residential conference has a packed programme of expert speakers from across the HE sector, panel discussions and a choice of practical and inspiring seminars.
Join us to discover how to enhance your institution's reputation by adding value through equality.
- Enhancing reputation: distinctiveness through diversity
- Student experience: equality's role in recruitment, retention and reputation
- Governing with a fair head: the importance of equality in governance
- Equality in the new HE landscape
Visit our conference website for full details and to register your place. Subsidised fees are available for delegates from the HE sector and also from colleges in Scotland.
You can also follow the event and post questions on Twitter using #ecu2012.
ECU welcomes new Board members
Following the end of their terms of service, independent equality practitioner Felicity Cooke and David Williams, Director of Human Resources at Swansea University, stood down as ECU Board members in July. We would like to thank them for their support and commitment during their time in office.
We would like to welcome to the Board Patrick Johnson, Head of Equality and Diversity at the University of Manchester, and Margaret Ayers, Human Resources Director at the University of Kent. Margaret was nominated by Universities Human Resources. ECU also welcomes to the Board a representative nominated by the National Union of Students. Finn McGoldrick is the current LGBT officer (women’s place) for NUS.
Patrick, Margaret and Finn's expertise and experience within higher education institutions will ensure that ECU continues to be supported by a strong and knowledgeable Board.
ECU in Scotland
Changes in ECU’s work
Fatima Choudhury, who leads on our colleges work in Scotland, will be leaving ECU in August at the end of her contract. Fatima will take up a role leading on diversity and corporate social responsibility projects for a sporting competition body and wishes colleagues in Scotland’s colleges all the best with their diversity and equality journey.
ECU is evolving the way we work to support the advancement of equality in Scotland’s colleges and universities. We will be recruiting more staff to help us deliver our work in Scotland. You can find the details of the Scotland job opportunities in the Get involved section below.
We also aim to develop an office base in Scotland for more efficient engagement. We are looking for a college or university that would be able to assist in hosting two to three ECU staff, providing desks and/or office space.
If you think your institution may be able to help, please contact Chris Hall, Tel: 020 7438 1025 for more details.
Events for colleges in Scotland
ECU will be running a number of seminars and forums to support the sector with their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. Colleges are invited to attend the following training:
Equality Act 2010: What it means for you
Webinar: Wednesday 5 September 2012, 11.00-12.00
Delivered online in webinar format, this session will provide an introduction and overview of the Equality Act and specific duties, improving your understanding of the legislation, its relevance and impact across all college functions.
The webinar is open to all college staff, including those in teaching, administration and management as well as those who have a general interest in equality and diversity.
Email Fatima Choudhury to register your interest.
Equal pay surgery
Seminar: Thursday 20 September 2012, Scotland’s Colleges, Stirling
Developed to assist colleges in addressing the pay gap, this seminar will offer an overview of the legislative requirements and will allow delegates the space to consider a range of pay issues relevant to their organisation.
Facilitated by equal pay specialists Sue Hastings and Rachel Edgar, this ‘surgery’ style session will be flexible to allow delegates to discuss their experiences and benefit from expert advice on approaches to undertaking pay reviews, good practice and build in an awareness of race and disability considerations.
This session is open to HR practitioners and those responsible for managing pay reviews.
Opportunities to join ECU
Working with colleges in Scotland
We are recruiting for two roles working with colleges in Scotland:
Senior Policy Adviser (Scotland)
Up to 0.6 FTE, one year fixed-term contract. Salary £37, 607 per annum pro rata.
This post will provide strategic leadership on ECU's work with colleges in Scotland and involve meeting and anticipating the needs of institutions as well as contributing to other aspects of ECU’s activities. The post will be based in Scotland (central belt), but regular travel to ECU's office in London will be required.
Policy Officer (Scotland)
Up to 0.8 FTE, one year fixed-term contract. Salary £28, 822 per annum pro rata.
This post will provide policy and project support for ECU's work with colleges and universities in Scotland as well as contributing to other aspects of ECU’s activities. The post will be based in Scotland (central belt), but regular travel to ECU's office in London will be required.
BME network of networks
Developing a national BME staff network
Thursday 8 November 2012 (venue to be confirmed).
The Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG), with support from ECU, is holding a one-day meeting to discuss the possible development of a BME staff Network of Networks.
The network is intended to bring together the various institutional and regional networks that exist, and provide a mechanism to link up ideas and views of those networks to discuss cross-cutting issues and share good practice.
The network is designed to be led by BME staff in HE, for BME staff in HE. ECU will provide logistical and administrative support to the network and some initial funding.
ECU will reimburse the cost of travel to the meeting for one person from each UK HEI. However, there is no limit to the number of people who can attend from each HEI.
Ideally we would like:
- Representatives from institutional BME staff networks
- Representatives from regional BME networks
- Individuals whose institutions do not have a BME network but who would like to link up
- Representatives from BME trade union groups
- Representatives from interested race equality groups
To register your interest and to book a place at the meeting contact Claire Herbert, Tel: 020 7438 1016.
Follow ECU on Twitter
You can now access our updates and equality news by following us on Twitter. We flag up interesting news and announcements about equality in the higher education sector, as well as letting you know all about the current work of the ECU team.
Equality Act 2010: Positive action through bursaries, scholarships and prizes
Avoid unlawful discrimination
Higher education institutions award bursaries, scholarships and prizes in many forms, and based on a wide variety of selection criteria.
Whether based on a student's means, subject or background; funded by a donor or directly by the HEI; in the form of money, discounted fees or accommodation, it is vital that these awards avoid unlawful discrimination.
This briefing provides an outline of the legal issues involved, identifying the key risks faced by HEIs and steps that can be taken to ensure they can legally provide bursaries, scholarships and prizes.
It has been developed in response to queries we have received from the sector on the legality and appropriateness of schemes.
Student services: supporting LGB students
Leaflets for frontline staff
Student services, including advice, welfare and counselling services, play an important part in creating an accessible and inclusive environment where all students feel that their needs are understood and supported.
High quality support for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students leads to improved retention of talent, increased sense of community on campus and improved academic results. Support services that do not recognise the particular needs of LGB students can reinforce feelings of isolation, invisibility and have a detrimental effect on health, welfare and attainment.
With top tips, advice and information, these leaflets will help ensure that your frontline services fully support LGB students. There are two leaflets – one for student services in HE, and one for colleges.
Hardcopy leaflets are available. Contact ECU publications for copies.
Equality impact assessment and the REF
Advice on equality and the REF
We have developed a section of our website which gives general information institutions may want to consider when conducting their own impact assessments of Research Excellence Framework processes.
This includes information on:
- Areas to be covered by an EIA
- The information to consider
- What to do about positive and negative impacts
- Engaging groups
- Reporting requirements
Higher Education Race Action Group
22 October 2012, London
The Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG) meets three times a year to bring together equality and diversity practitioners and other interested parties to talk about methods of advancing race equality within higher education.
This special October meeting will discuss HERAG’s aims, workplan for 2012-13 and beyond, and how to include practitioners from across the whole of the UK.
The venue is yet to be decided but the timings will be arranged to allow people to travel to and from the meeting within a day. It will also be possible for some people to join in virtually.
To get involved with either this meeting or future HERAG work please contact Claire Herbert, Tel: 0207 438 1016.
Access to HE summit: the bottom line
23 October 2012, London
Organised by Action on Access and Universities UK, the event brings together those involved in access to higher education to both take stock of the issues of the day as well as hearing about future developments in the field.
This year the summit will focus on the economic contribution that widening access to higher education has made and how this in turn can impact on social mobility.
Challenges and choices in education: your deaf learners can achieve their potential
1 November 2012, London
Signature is an organisation which promotes excellence in communication with deaf and deafblind people.
Part of their thirtieth anniversary, this event is aimed at senior policymakers and practitioners in education and will explore some of the underlying reasons why deaf learners have for decades been outperformed by their non-deaf peers.
Looking to good practice at home and abroad, it will also explore the simple choices providers can make to remove the attainment gap between deaf people and other learners, and provide an opportunity to discuss related issues.
Equalitylink will return in September
Enjoy the summer!
If you would like your event to be featured on our website and the next issue of Equalitylink, please email details to Anna Roberts Allison, Communications Manager.