Subscriber stories: University of Gloucestershire
Clare Peterson, Equality and Diversity Manager, and Anna Hay, Head of Student Wellbeing at University of Gloucestershire share their priorities for the year ahead.
“ECU offers a significant level of detail in its supportive guidance documentation and each is invaluable at the time at which it is needed”
What encouraged you to subscribe to the ECU?
To maintain access to high quality, relevant and timely resources. For example, we regularly use the annual statistics to benchmark our own practice which, in turn, supports the determination of our priorities, and provides robust information for evidence based decision-making.
We make regular referrals to the ECU guidance documents and in the last year alone we have referenced good practice on supporting trans students and alternative assessment arrangements for students of different faiths.
We also value the ability to access expertise and specialist knowledge via the telephone on complex challenges which frequently require immediate responses.
What are the main equality and diversity challenges you have in the year ahead that ECU will be able to support you with?
With the requirement to report on the gender pay gap due to take effect in 2016, the ECU will be able to help us with research, identifying underlying causes for gaps and disseminating good practice that we could look to adopt. We would also look to work with them to improve the representation of black and ethnic minority staff in the university as well as the representation, retention and academic success of black and ethnic minority students.
We are continuously exploring ways to increase disclosure rates for a number of protected characteristics to provide a more accurate picture of staff and student experiences and examples of best practice will be useful.
Where does equality and diversity sit within your university’s strategy?
Equality and diversity is an intrinsic part not only of the university’s strategic plan (2012-17) but also the thematic strategies that underpin the overall strategy, with defined progress measures. It is evident within the values, most noticeably those of “trust” and “respect” and within the vice-chancellor’s objectives in relation to governance, leadership and management for the university, for the academic year 2015/16.
What piece of ECU work has been most helpful?
It is difficult to pinpoint just one piece of work as the ECU offers a significant level of detail in its supportive guidance documentation and each is invaluable at the time at which it is needed. As mentioned earlier, we have made particular use of the guidance documents for a variety of reasons, to enhance the experience for individual staff and students of the university, and also inform policies and procedures to widen the use of best practice. We find that guidance produced by colleagues in the sector is really beneficial when trying to affect change (i.e. when discussing inclusivity with staff in a particular department, it is important to be able to share examples of good practice from others within the same field who understand the same pressures and circumstances that staff are facing).
What is your personal highlight of working with equality and diversity at your institution?
Working with staff who genuinely want to embed diversity and inclusivity into their standard working practices whether that it is academic staff innovatively trialing accessible approaches to delivery and assessment for students, or professional staff seeking to improve the service delivery for all their users.
What one action would you recommend that universities take to advance equality for staff and students?
Be bold and celebrate your achievements, recognising individual staff and student contributions, communicating examples of good practice so that you can shape and improve practice for the benefit of the whole university community.