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Equalitylink February 2016


Welcome February 2016

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 colleges in Scotland.

Equalitylink is a monthly round-up of equality and diversity news, resources and ECU’s work with the sector.

Equality update

Discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff and students continues

Report from ‘the Forum’ reveals ongoing issues 8 years after ECU research first exposed concerns

A report, Pride and prejudice in education released last week by the Forum for sexual orientation and gender identity equality in post-school education (of which ECU is a member), has discovered ongoing discrimination of staff and students.

The report calls on universities and colleges to provide good quality training and support for staff. It also recommends that institutions develop an inclusive curriculum, have zero tolerance for harassment of LGBT+ students and take action to prevent students dropping out due to discrimination.

Find out more

BME students need more than a place at Oxford

Participation is important, but not the biggest problem

The recent focus by the Prime Minister on minority ethnic student participation at highly selective institutions risks creating a smokescreen hiding the frankly appalling retention, attainment and destination statistics underlying the experience faced by minority ethnic students.

Read ECU’s Chris Hall’s article: BME students need more than a place at Oxford

Transparency of admission and retention figures

David Cameron also announced that universities will be required to publish admissions and retention data by gender, ethnic background and socio-economic status in a new ‘transparency duty’.

Read the government news article.

Scottish Funding Council launch interim gender action plan

Push for more impact

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has launched an interim gender action plan outlining what actions it plans to undertake, in partnership with colleges, universities and other partners including ECU, to address gender imbalances.

The plan is a positive step, encouraging institutions to do more to address some of the more extreme gender imbalances in the sector, as well as the gap between genders in undergraduate participation, retention and completion.

The SFC has set a sector target to have no subject with an extreme gender imbalance (75:25) and to reduce by 5% the gap between male and female participation in undergraduate study by 2030. The plan will encourage and support institutions to meet these targets and asks institutions to use their existing work in a more impactful way.

Despite some media reports, there is no indication that the SFC intends to stop funding courses that don’t meet this target by 2030.

SFC will publish further details of its national ambition for change, including subject and regional ambitions, in May 2016.

SFC interim gender action plan.

Our work

ASSET 2016: Survey launches this week

Sample HEIs will be contacted this week

The Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET) is a national survey that seeks to examine academics’ experiences, expectations and perceptions of gender equality in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines and in their HE institution. It provides a valuable benchmark on the areas of organisational culture and practice requiring improvement to enable consistent career progression trajectories.

Fifty-two higher education institutions have been selected to take part in the survey. This means that unlike the previous survey run in 2010, only academics working in the selected HEIs will be eligible to participate in ASSET 2016. If you have been selected, you will be contacted this week.

In order to get a clear view of the sector, we need as many of the STEMM academics in these institutions to take part. Please help to spread the word among your colleagues. HEIs that secure a 15% response rate will be provided by ECU with a tailored report.

While the survey sample is limited, the learning from the survey will be applicable to the higher education sector as a whole.

ASSET 2016

ECU’s Race Equality Charter and managing risk

De Montfort University focused on the positives

Dr Christine Nightingale, Head of Equality and Diversity at De Montfort University, shares her institution’s approach to the perceived risks of taking part in ECU’s Race Equality Charter pilot.
Blog: REC and risk, Dr Christine Nightingale

Get involved

Increasing diversity

Support to increase numbers of students from underrepresented equality groups

Do you want to recruit more students from underrepresented equality groups? With an expanded remit now covering students, we are offering targeted support to higher education institutions (HEIs) committed to increasing the number of students from underrepresented equality groups.

Adopting an action research model, we’ll be directly supporting ten HEIs to develop, deliver and evaluate targeted equality initiatives to address a wide range of issues that impact on representation. Throughout, these HEIs will share practical in-depth lessons with all ECU subscribers through question and answer sessions, blogs, top tips and web events.

To apply to be one of the ten institutions selected to take part, submit your expression of interest to Chris Brill by 12 noon, 1 April 2016.

Further details and the submission forms are on our website.

Increasing diversity: recruiting students from underrepresented groups

Review of minority ethnic representation across all sectors

Academic calls on David Cameron to launch a comprehensive review

Dr Nicola Rollock has launched a petition calling for the government to examine the issue of the retention and senior level representation of Black and minority ethnic employees across all sectors, including higher education.

Dr Rollock is deputy director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education at the University of Birmingham and patron of ECU’s Race Equality Charter.

Petition: Review Black and minority ethnic representation across all job sectors

Share your expertise and experiences: calls for papers

Closing the gap: research and practice on black and minority ethnic student attainment in HE

The Student Success Project at the University of Kent is organising a special one-day conference on the issue of race and ethnicity in higher education. The conference will explore how we can inspire, support and share excellent practice in closing the attainment gap between white and Black and minority ethnic students.

Closing the gap: research and practice on Black and minority ethnic student attainment in HE

Call for abstracts open until 7 March 2016.

Making diversity interventions count

The annual conference organised by the University of Bradford’s Centre for Inclusion and Diversity aims to explore the varying interventions aimed at advancing equality, with the objective of informing the development of good practice in the effective use of diversity interventions in organisations.

Making diversity interventions count

Call for abstracts open until 21 March 2016.

HERAG think tank

The Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG) are calling for proposals for posters, discussion papers and workshops on the theme ‘Creating inclusive learning and teaching is a function of the culture of the academic, the culture of the student and the culture of the institution@.

The day will explore inclusive curriculum, services for students, diversifying the academy, belonging and intersectionality.

More details are available online

Call for proposals open until 17.00, Friday 29 April 2016.

Royal Society Athena Prize 2016

Nominations are now open

Do you know someone in your institution who has set up an innovative project that is contributing to the advancement of diversity in STEM and should be recognised for their efforts?

The Royal Society Athena Prize 2016 is a new national award which recognises individuals and teams in the UK research community who have contributed towards the advancement of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The award aims to inspire innovation and leadership in diversity issues. The winner of the prize receives a medal and a gift of £5000 and runners-up will receive a gift of £1000.

This is an opportunity to celebrate those inspirational individuals and teams who are leading the way by putting diversity at the heart of everything they do.

Find out more: Royal Society Athena Prize 2016

Closing date for nominations: 18.00, Tuesday 29 March 2016.

Help plan ECU’s annual conference 2016

We’re starting to plan our annual conference for 2016 and are keen to involve our subscribing institutions to shape the agenda.

To volunteer as part of the working group and help make this conference our best yet, please email ECU’s Engagement Manager, Gemma Instrall.

Resources and support

Ramadan and timetabling exams

Support students and staff balance fasting and exams

Ramadan will coincide with the summer exam period until 2018 and a large percentage of Muslim students will be combining the challenges of exams with fasting and other religious observance.

With a diverse staff and student population in UK higher education, the question of how to accommodate religious practice during exam and assessment periods is an important one.
Our website features recommendations on exam planning, timetabling and student support to help you develop an inclusive approach.

Creating an inclusive environment: Religion and belief

Inclusivity: supporting BAME trans people

GIRES launch a new guide

GIRES (Gender Identity Research and Education Society) has launched a 28-page guide with practical tips, guidance, and resources dedicated to supporting the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) trans population of Britain.

GIRES believe that this important initiative will ‘provide BAME trans people with a different way to convey their concerns to all policy makers, employers and service providers, as well as to families and support groups. We encourage them to listen carefully to what BAME trans people are so clearly saying.’

Inclusivity: supporting BAME trans people

Email GIRES to order a printed copy

Liberation and learning pack

NUS Scotland

NUS Scotland has produced a campaign pack for students’ associations outlining their Liberation and learning campaign which calls for a more diverse curriculum.

Liberation and learning campaign pack

For more information contact Megan McHaney, NUS Scotland policy and influencing officer


Share your events with us on Twitter, follow us @EqualityinHE

2016 Fawcett lecture

7 March 2016, Royal Holloway, University of London

Broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray DBE (BBC Radio 4’s weekday show Woman’s Hour), will be in conversation with Royal Holloway historian Dr Anna Whitelock. The lecture will be followed by a reception.

The Fawcett Lecture is part of Royal Holloway’s Women Inspire fortnight 5-18 March.

International women’s day

8 March 2016

International women’s day celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and is an opportunity to call for action on gender parity.
The day will be celebrated across the sector with events, lectures, films and workshops.

Share what your institution is doing on Twitter using #IWD2016.

Future directions in STEMM for disabled people

17 March 2016, The Royal Society, London

Hosted by the STEMM disability advisory committee, this event will share and develop best practice in supporting the transitions of people with disabilities throughout education and employment.

Future directions in STEMM for disabled people

Dyslexic Academic Network national launch

18 March 2016, University of the Arts London

National launch of a support, advocacy, information and policy development forum for researchers and lecturers with dyslexia in higher education.

This will be the first ever opportunity for dyslexic academics to work together in identifying the challenges they face, ways of overcoming barriers and to re-address the deficit model of dyslexia.

DAN members come from across the UK and diverse academic disciplines

To attend, please email Anne Morris before 9 March 2016.

Learning for all 2016: event for practitioners

21 March 2016, Perth, Scotland

A joint national conference of the Scottish Funding Council and NUS Scotland on progress in widening access to further and higher education. This good practice sharing and networking event is targeted at managers, practitioners and policy makers working in schools, local authorities, community learning and development, and colleges and universities. ECU will be running a session on our Attracting diversity project.

Learning for all 2016

Introduction to ECU’s Race Equality Charter

23 March, 13 May 2016

A series of introductions to ECU’s Race Equality Charter.

Heidi Plus training for equality practitioners

March – April 2016, various locations

One day IT-based course from HESA on Heidi Plus for equality practitioners.

Find out more about Heidi Plus

Tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students

19 April 2016, London

Universities UK event updating the sector on the work of their taskforce to address violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting students.

Tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students

Progressing equality and diversity in Scottish further and higher education

26 April 2016, Glasgow

ECU’s Scotland conference 2016 will set the scene on Scotland’s progress on equality and diversity, and provide a platform to celebrate and disseminate the great work that is underway to progress equality and diversity in Scottish colleges and higher education institutions from across the UK.

With a choice of 12 workshops and keynote presentation, this will be a practical and thought-provoking day.

Progressing equality and diversity in Scottish further and higher education

If you would like your event to be featured on our website and the next issue of Equalitylink, please email details to Gemma Instrall, Engagement Manager.