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Panellists and Observers

For information on becoming a panellist or observer please see below.

Panellists >

What do panellists do?

Panellist are central to the peer review assessment process of ECU’s Race Equality Charter and Athena SWAN Charter.

ECU will convene the meeting of an awards panel to review applications. The panel will decide whether to recommend to ECU that an award is conferred.

Who can be a panellist?

Awards panels will usually be made up of five people, and review up to five applications per sitting.

To qualify as a panellist you need to work or have recently worked in the higher education (HE) sector.  Depending on the role, consultants that work in HE sector may not qualify to become a panellist.

In constructing the panel ECU seek to achieve appropriate representation, considering the gender and ethnicity of panellists for Athena SWAN and ECU’s Race Equality Charter respectively, and ensuring we have representation of experienced and new panellists. ECU draws panellists from the following groups of people:

= academics and technical services staff

= human resources or equality and diversity practitioners with experience of higher education

= other professional services staff with experience of higher education

= specialists (for example industry and research institute representatives, members or employees of learned and professional societies, gender equality and race equality specialists as appropriate)

= students.

Why become a panellist?

Participating in an equality charter mark panel gives you an invaluable insight into the assessment process. You will come away with a more detailed understanding of how panels work and insight into how other institutions analyse their data and make progress on their action plan. Reading through multiple applications will also provide you with good practice ideas which could be implemented in your institution.

Becoming a panel member also gives you an opportunity to share your equality and diversity knowledge and/or subject expertise with peers from other institutions.  It is an opportunity to build your professional networks and knowledge of equality and diversity.

What does being a panellist involve?

After registering, you will need to do complete online panellist training before being able to be assigned to a panel.  This will take around 1 hour for Athena SWAN and slightly longer for REC. Information on how to complete the training will be sent to you once you have registered.

If you are assigned to a panel, you will be required to read in detail up to five (usually four) equality charter mark submissions in advance of an assessment panel day.  As a guideline, each submission may take 3-4 hours to read and assess in advance of the panel.

You will be required to attend the assessment panel, which will be scheduled to last a full day (10:30am-4:30pm) in our offices in central London, or at another central London location.

On the day, the panel considers each application in turn, led by a chair drawn from the panel. There is also a moderator and note-taker from ECU, who do not have a vote.

ECU provides lunch and refreshments and will reimburse reasonable travel costs incurred (conditions are specified in the panellist guidance sent to you when you have been assigned to a panel).

How do I become a panellist?

There are a number of stages in becoming a panellist.

  • Register your interest in becoming a panellist. As part of this process you must:
    • Complete the registration form (online)
    • Upload a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) form as part of your registration so we can ensure the confidentiality of panellists, the panels and the applicants.
    • Complete a Declaration of Interest form. This allows us to ascertain any conflicts of interest you may have (online form).

Once you have done this, you will be added to our potential panellist list and receive all communications relating to being a panellist.  By registering, you are also agreeing for your name and institution to be listed on our website as a potential panellist.

  • Once your registration has been processed, you will need to complete our panellist training. Currently, the Athena SWAN training is a narrated powerpoint that will take around 1 hour to complete.  You will receive the link and password to this once your registration is complete.  You can do this training at any time prior to being assigned to a panel, but you must complete the webform afterwards to register your completion.  If you have not completed the training, you will not be able to be assigned to a panel.  You must complete the training once every 2 years.  REC training is currently delivered as an online webinar and will be organised as part of the panel allocation.
  • In the lead up to panels we email all potential panellists with an availability poll, which potential panellists must complete by the deadline specified (usually the same date as the submission deadline). At this time, you must also update your Declaration of Interest should there be any changes (for example you have moved institution) and ensure you have competed the training within the last 2 years.
    Once we have received all the submissions and planned the panel compositions, we will then email all panellists that have been assigned a panel with the date, and panel information. We also email all potential panellists who have not been assigned to this round to let them know.

Please note that we have around 1500 registered potential panellists and only around 225 spaces per panel round, therefore we cannot guarantee panel allocation to all registered panellists.

Observers >

What do observers do?

Observers can witness the panel process. This role can be especially helpful for those working towards a Race Equality Charter (REC) or Athena SWAN application. Observers do not take part in the decision-making process and do not vote, though may be asked for their opinions on submissions after decisions have been made.

Who can be an observer?

Anyone eligible to become a panellist can be an observer (please see above).

What does being an observer involve?

If you are assigned to a panel, you will be sent up to five (usually four) equality charter mark submissions in advance of an assessment panel day which we recommend you read before the panel.

You will be asked to attend the assessment panel, which will be scheduled to last a full day (10:30am-4:30pm) in our offices in central London, or at another central London location.

On the day, the panel considers each application in turn, led by a chair drawn from the panel. There is also a moderator and note-taker from ECU, who do not have a vote.  Observers do not contribute to the discussion, although the chair may ask you for any comments after all of the decisions have been made.

ECU provides lunch and refreshments and will contribute to travel costs incurred (conditions specified in the panellist/ observer guidance sent to you when you have been assigned a panel).  Please note there is an upper limit on observer expense claims, which is currently set at £50 for observers travelling within the UK.  If you are assigned to a panel please ensure you read the guidance carefully before booking travel.

How do I become an observer?

  1. Register your interest in becoming an observer. As part of this process you must:
    1. Complete the registration form (online)
    2. Upload a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) form as part of your registration form so we can ensure the confidentiality of the panels
    3. Complete a Declaration of Interest form. This allows us to ascertain any conflicts of interest you may have (online).

Once you have done this, you will be added to our potential observer list and receive all communications relating to being an observer.

  1. In the lead up to panels we email all potential observers with an availability poll, which potential observers must complete by the deadline specified (usually the same date as the submission deadline). At this time, you must also update your Declaration of Interest should there be any changes (for example you have moved institution).
  2. Once we have received all the submissions and planned the panel compositions, we will then email all observers that have been assigned a panel with the date, and panel information. We also email all potential observers who have not been assigned to this round to let them know.