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Home Article First ever Race Equality Charter for HE launched today

First ever Race Equality Charter for HE launched today

Published: 20/01/2016

First awards will be presented as ECU's Race Equality Charter is opened up to the higher education sector

We are delighted to officially launch ECU’s Race Equality Charter today, the first ever award scheme recognising the work that universities are undertaking to advance race equality. The launch follows a successful trial in which 21 universities submitted an application. The charter is supported by race equality experts, a number of prominent UK academics and by Jo Johnson MP, Universities and Science Minister.

From today, ECU’s Race Equality Charter will be open for all UK higher education institutions to join.

Race inequality in HE

ECU’s Race Equality Charter aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. The need for the charter is manifest. There is a huge disparity in the representation and success of Black and minority ethnic staff within UK universities. For example out of 14,315 professors, just 70 are Black. For students, there is a degree attainment gap of 15.2% between BME students who achieve a first or 2:1 and white students. This rises to a 25.2% gap for Black African heritage students.

Universities commit to the charter’s guiding principles which include acknowledging the complexity and often covert nature of racial inequalities, and addressing institutional and cultural barriers faced by staff and students.

Acknowledging progress

This afternoon eight universities who successfully achieved Bronze level during the Race Equality Charter trial will be presented with their awards by Professor Laura Serrant, who is a patron of the charter. The launch will include an address by Baroness Doreen Lawrence and reflections from trial participants.

You can follow the event on Twitter using #RacecharterHE and follow the team on @ECURaceCharter.

A welcome step

Jo Johnson MP, Universities and Science Minister, has expressed his support to the aims of the Charter:

‘These awards recognise the hard work of many universities to improve diversity on campus. This Government is committed to ensuring everybody has the opportunity to benefit from higher education, and want to see 20% more BME students entering HE by 2020. The Race Equality Charter is a welcome step towards helping meet that common goal.’

A serious commitment to change

Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Chair of ECU’s Board said:

‘ECU’s Race Equality Charter provides a framework for higher education to think seriously about how they can tackle cultures and behaviours that disadvantage our BME staff and students. For those that succeed, receiving an award from Equality Challenge Unit is something that they can be proud of.’

The full list of trial award winners:

Bronze institution awards

  • De Montfort University
  • King’s College London
  • Kingston University
  • Royal Holloway University London
  • Staffordshire University
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • UCL (incorporating the Institute of Education)
  • University of Manchester

Read more about ECU’s Race Equality Charter:

Claire Herbert, manager of ECU’s Race Equality Charter, calls for honest conversations at all levels across the sector

Dr Nicola Rollock, writing on the Guardian Higher Education Network

Presentations from the launch

Keynote address: Professor Laura Serrant, Wolverhampton University and REC Patron

Video message from Professor Kevin Hylton, Leeds Beckett University and REC Patron

Reflections from trial participants:

REC trial, evaluation and future Claire Herbert, REC Manager, ECU