A: Papers session
Transgender experiences of the spaces of higher education
Notwithstanding an improving legal frame and changing social attitudes, there remains a dearth of research that focuses on the challenges faced by transgender people in educational environments. This paper shares some initial findings of a study that aims to understand how social and spatial relations are constructed, contested and (re)imagined by transgender students and staff including those who identify as gender non-conforming or non-binary. We highlight diversity in transgender experiences whilst also underlining a number of cross-cutting themes: including misrecognition, micro-aggressions, poor representation and little knowledge about appropriate language. Whilst the campus is generally understood as being more ‘accepting’ than the wider city, we describe how intersectionality is critical to collective responses geared towards improving the conditions for transgender students and staff.
Professional Education in Career Guidance and Development: placing equality and diversity activity at the forefront of curriculum design and programme delivery
Career Guidance and Development (CGD) is an established, if small, academic discipline. Aspects of equality, diversity and inclusive practice are often overlooked in critiques of career decision-making theory. The proactivity and visible dedication to progressing equality and diversity in training and practice in the CGD sector is the responsibility of its academics, offering contemporary evidence for advocacy of a discipline that continuously offers innovative and at times radical approaches to progressing equality and diversity.
In taking over the long-standing MSc Career Guidance and Development programme at UWS in January 2017, the authors brought broad expertise from HE research and teaching and in equality and diversity policy development and practice. They aimed to “make the medium the message” by taking a career development approach to all activity, transforming the programme in just 12 months. The authors will discuss how they enacted their intention, profiling equality and diversity practice, leading in to the presentation of how they will be showcasing their best practice approach in the forthcoming Embedding Equality and Diversity in the Curriculum Practice Guide, commissioned by the Higher Education Academy.
Embedding equality of access, participation and success in Irish Higher Education
This paper describes a practice-based research project to mainstream and embed equality of access. It charts how a research-intensive Irish University is using an institution-wide approach to systematically embed the principle of equity of access and thus move access from the institution’s margins to a mainstream concern.
This presentation grounds this initiative in national policy, and relevant academic literature, and outlines the iterative implementation process. Three phases are explored: Phase 1 addressed underpinning strategy and structures needed to build a sustainable foundation, while Phase 2 harnessed the commitment and enthusiasm of University staff, and the current Phase, builds on these developments by focusing on the creation of ‘ripple effect’ to extend mainstreaming and inclusive practice throughout the campus. This paper describes the series of interventions, approaches and resource development, applied across key institutional dimensions. The leavers used to effect individual and institutional transformation are outlined. The lessons learnt thus far are drawn. We will also look at the role of data and impact measurement in this initiative which includes both quantitative and qualitative measures.
B: Mentally Healthy College Community Project
The session is designed to highlight the unique partnership development that is taking place between Glasgow Clyde College and SAMH to deliver a 2 year project which will create a mentally healthy, open and vibrant college community. It is the first project of its kind to focus upon increasing staff capacity. Research has shown that students are more likely than other groups to experience mental health problems and that serious mental health problems amongst students are increasing. In order to ensure that the College can best educate and support our students we think it is vital that we create a culture in which students can be supported in identifying their concerns and appropriately supported by the College and external agencies.
Staff and student welfare is of the utmost importance to Glasgow Clyde College and by adopting a holistic approach to mental health will ensure that our staff have the skills to support students and an awareness of how best to look after their own mental health.
C: Regional Collaboration for Gender Parity Initiatives
In this session, we will look at Robert Gordon University’s approach to tackling gender imbalance with regional partners in North East Scotland. We will discuss best practices and lessons learned around undertaking cross-institutional projects and use our recent collaboration with the GENES (Gender Equality North East Scotland) collective to illustrate our experiences and inspire idea sharing amongst attendees. Specifically, we will look at the #NaeGenderLimits project and how this regional effort was funded, promoted and staffed. Participants should come ready to engage and are encouraged to bring materials to share with the group from their own regional efforts. By the end of the session, participants should have gained insight into the benefits of regional collaboration, methods to engage partner organisations and ways in which to increase the visibility, reach and success of their initiatives.
D: "All faiths and none": supporting inclusion of religion or belief across your institution
Is it time to change your approach to the protected characteristic of ‘religion or belief’?
Some institutions lack a clear strategy or oversight of religion or belief as an equality characteristic. How do you ensure discourses aren’t focussed only on issues such as Prevent, free speech, or competition with other protected groups? How do you better understand the boundaries of Chaplaincy and EDI services? How can you strengthen work on race equality by considering the intersection of religion?
Informed by ECU’s new guidance, existing research, and conversations with a variety of student groups, ECU will lead delegates through a series of exercises to think about the impact of a religious identity in the learning environment, and how the institution can approach these sensitively.
Delegates will leave the session:
- Informed about the top areas of concern around accessibility and inclusivity for the protected characteristic of ‘religion or belief’ with an overview from our recent guidance.
- Confident to start holding more conversations about religion or belief in EDI work.
- Empowered to start reviewing and improving their own inclusive approaches.
This session will be particularly valuable to those who are aiming to refresh their policies or activities around religion or belief, or who would like to build confidence discussing these themes in a professional context and supportive environment.