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Equalitylink May 2015



Welcome May 2015

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

ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter now covers arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law

From May this year ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter has expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), for those working in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

The charter also now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) in:

  • academic roles in STEM and AHSSBL
  • professional and support staff
  • trans staff and students

in relation to their:

  • representation
  • progression of students into academia
  • journey through career milestones
  • working environment for all staff

Find out more about the changes to our Equality Charters

Sarah Dickinson is now fulfilling the role of Interim Head of Equality Charters and Dr Ruth E Gilligan is taking over the role of Interim Equality Charters Manager in the Equality Charters team.

There will be a vacancy for a new role in the team appearing on our website shortly.

Contact the Equality Charters team

Scottish universities pledge board gender balance

Universities in Scotland have committed to achieving gender balance among the independent members of their governing bodies.

Each higher education institution will work towards having a minimum of 40 per cent men and 40 per cent women on their boards. The remaining 20 per cent of places open to both genders. The announcement was made by the Committee of Scottish Chairs in April.

Women currently represent 32 per cent of independent members on Scottish university boards, and progress toward the 40 per cent target will be reviewed in 2018.

ECU is currently developing guidance on governing bodies, equality and diversity in Scottish HEIs. The research, which included 94 survey responses and 22 interviews from Scottish governors and secretaries, highlights examples from across the sector, internationally, as well as from outside of higher education. The report will be launched at an event in Edinburgh on 30 June 2015.

ECU governing bodies, equality and diversity in Scottish HEIs

Committee of Scottish Chairs

Supporting staff and students who are experiencing mental health difficulties

In UK higher education around 1 in 125 students and around 1 in 500 staff have disclosed a ‘mental health condition’ to their university.

Last week during Mental Health Awareness Week Chris Brill, a Senior Policy Adviser at ECU, wrote a blog on disclosing a mental health condition in UK universities.

You can also take a look at our research into disclosure and support mechanisms for staff and students experiencing mental health difficulties.

Our work

ECU to move to a subscription service

Change to ECU funding from 1 January 2016

From 1 January 2016 higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland will be invited to subscribe directly to ECU to continue to access our services, resources and advice, and to take part in our equality charters, including Athena SWAN.

ECU currently receives a significant proportion of our core funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) Northern Ireland to support institutions in England and Northern Ireland to advance equality and diversity and meet the requirements of equality legislation. Due to the changed funding regime in England, HEFCE and DEL will no longer be in a position to provide core funding to ECU, alongside a number of other sector bodies.

ECU is currently undertaking an intense period of consultation – an online consultation with English HEIs closed on 1 May 2015 and consultation with institutions in Northern Ireland is open until 22 May.

The results of this consultation will be used to build a subscription package of services and benefits. This will be shared with the sector in July 2015.

Take part in the consultation for institutions in Northern Ireland

ECU to move to a subscription service


Progressing race equality in higher education

Our latest research into the push and pull factors causing BME academics to consider leaving the UK and what the UK higher education sector can do to entice them back was followed up in a series of blogs.

Gary Loke, Head of Policy at ECU reflected on why ECU developed the race equality charter mark while Dr Kalwant Bhopal from the University of Southampton highlighted the importance of HEIs making race equality a priority in order to improve the experience of staff and students.
Panels for ECU’s new race equality charter mark also take place this month.

Read our latest research on Academic flight: how to encourage BME academics to stay in UK higher education

Developing diversity competence

The second annual ECU and Higher Education Academy (HEA) Scotland conference supporting equality and diversity in learning and teaching in Scottish higher education took place in Edinburgh in April.

Nathaniel Tobias Coleman, a keynote speaker, has shared his speech from the day online. More of the papers presented at the conference will be available in the future.

ECU launched its new guidance at the event: Academic teaching staff: developing equality and diversity skills, knowledge and values aimed to help HEIs ensure that academic staff have the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver the curriculum. You can download your copy from the ECU website.

To keep up to date with all our work, follow us on Twitter @EqualityinHE

Get involved

Become a panellist for our Equality Charters

Participating in an equality charter mark panel gives you an invaluable experience of the assessment process. You will come away with a detailed understanding of how panels work, and insight into how other institutions analyse their data and make progress on their action plan.

Reading through a range of applications will also give you plenty of good practice ideas you may wish to consider implementing in your institution.

Being on a panel member also gives you an opportunity to build your professional networks and share learning among peers.

We are always seeking panellists with the following roles and specialisms:

  • academics
  • professional services staff
  • equality and diversity practitioners
  • HR practitioners
  • representatives of research councils, research institutes, learned societies and professional bodies

More information about becoming a panellist

Join your local equality network

Equality and diversity practitioners often work in isolation. Practitioner networks are a good way of finding local peer support and sharing good practice.

Practitioner networks are made up of representatives with responsibility for equality and diversity from higher education institutions in a particular region.

Find your local network meeting and information about other national and regional networks

Resources and support

NUS race matters report

This report, released earlier this year, looks at the experiences of black staff in the student movement.

The findings of the report provide a valuable insight into the experiences and barriers that many black staff face in students’ unions, and confirm a wider picture of race inequality and underrepresentation.

It also makes recommendations for student unions around engaging black students in the student movement, diverse recruitment, career development and organisational culture.

NUS race matters report

Request extra copies of our statistics snapshot

ECU has continued to have a number of requests for bulk orders of our Know your numbers booklets.

Institutions are using the booklet to highlight to departments and senior leaders the equality challenges the sector faces.

The mini booklet of infographics taken from our HE stats report has been designed to raise awareness of equality and diversity data across institutions and encourage wider audiences to engage with equality issues.

We can provide up to 10 copies free of charge. Orders over this will cost £1 per booklet including postage. Email to order copies.

Trans health factsheets

A series of trans health factsheets have been developed by members of the National LGB&T Partnership in collaboration with cliniQ, Mermaids, and TransForum Manchester, with support from Public Health England.

The factsheets, which will be useful to anyone supporting trans staff and students, cover the following topics:

  • access to gender services
  • ageing
  • alcohol, drugs and tabacco
  • exercise and nutrition
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • sexual health and HIV
  • trans children, teens and their parents

Trans health factsheets

TUC report on ‘black workers and casualisation’

‘Living on the margins. Black workers and casualisation’ was published by the TUC in April.

According to the report, the number of black and Asian workers in low-paid jobs increased by 12.7 per cent between 2011 and 2014. Over the same period the number of white workers employed in low-paying industries increased at a much slower rate of 1.8 per cent.

ECU has previously undertaken work research exploring the lived experience of black and minority ethnic staff (BME) and how institutional policy and practice may affect BME staff differently.

Living on the margins. Black workers and casualisation

Experience of black and minority ethnic staff in HE in England


Share your events on Twitter

If you’d like us to help promote your equality events, tweet us @EqualityinHE.

Inclusive mentoring and staff development: why it’s important and how to achieve it

29 May 2015, webinar

Aimed at those in FE and HE, participants will be able to engage with the concept of inclusive mentoring as a tool to address underrepresentation in the workplace.

A toolkit has been developed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Equality Mentoring Project to help in establish mentoring programmes and to assist in the training of those taking part.

The webinar will be presented by Alan White, Development Officer, STUC and Rosie Rutherford, Director, Cymbiosis Consulting.

Inclusive mentoring and staff development webinar

Journey to close the BME attainment gap – HERAG think tank 2015

1 June 2015, London

Aimed at equality and diversity professionals, academics, students and other individuals interested in advancing race equality in higher education, the theme of this year’s think tank is Journey to close the BME attainment gap.

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) will be opening the event.

Choose your breakout session and book your place

BME Leadership in Higher Education Summit

10 June 2015, Location

The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and Equality Challenge Unit are delighted to be hosting this event.

The summit aims to develop practical steps towards supporting BME staff to realise their potential and ensuring higher education institutions benefit from the diversity of talent in the academic and professional workforce.

Full details and how to book your place

Please save the date for our 10th anniversary Athena SWAN event

We will be celebrating ten years of Athena SWAN on 24 July 2015. Please save the date and check our events page for details shortly.

Conference: ‘The Equality Act 2010: 5 years on’

22 June 2015, Chester

The Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity at University of Chester and the University of Liverpool are hosting a day-long conference titled The Equality Act 2010: 5 years on.

This conference is targeted towards academics and practitioners in the field of equality law. Professor Sir Bob Hepple QC and Colm O’Cinneide will be providing the keynote presentations.

This conference will provide a platform to further develop an academic network in relation to the equality legislation. In addition, the conference will result in a themed publication in order to further disseminate ideas and work around the five-year anniversary of the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010: 5 years on

National women in engineering day

23 June 2015

Less than 10% of the engineering workforce is female. National women in engineering day (NWED) has been established to bring gender diversity and equality to the engineering and wider scientific sector.

Last year over 250 schools and 100 organisations were involved, each hosting their own events and activities to promote and support more females in this male dominated industry.

NWED would like to encourage more universities to commit to holding an event this year. A resource pack is available for those interested in organising and hosting activities and events for NWED.

NWED resources pack

Equality in Scotland’s young workforce: coordinating fair access to college

29 June 2015, Stirling

This event brings together sector agencies and college senior managers in Scotland to discuss approaches to achieving the equality aspects of the Developing Scotland’s Young Work Force Strategy.

The day will include keynote inputs from the Scottish Government and Education Scotland. There will be a response and panel discussion with representatives from colleges, College Development Network, Education Scotland, National Union of Students, and Skills Development Scotland.

Places are free. The majority are reserved for delegates from colleges and sector agencies in Scotland.

Book your place

ECU governing bodies, equality and diversity in Scottish HEIs

30 June 2015, Edinburgh

ECU is launching the report and findings from our research on Governing bodies, equality and diversity in Scottish HEIs. This event is aimed at university governors, chairs, secretaries and related staff.

ECU will present finding and recommendations from the report, including recommendations on increasing the diversity of governing bodies. The research, which included 94 survey responses and 22 interviews from Scottish governors and secretaries, highlights examples from across the sector, internationally, as well as from outside of higher education.

The day will include a panel discussion, chaired by Professor Neva Haites, vice principal for equality at University of Aberdeen. Confirmed panel members include:

  • David Ross, Chair of the Committee of Scottish Chairs and Convenor of University of Glasgow Court
  • Keir Bloomer, Chair of Court at Queen Margret University
  • Ann Marie Dalton, University Secretary at Heriot-Watt University
  • Davena Rankin, Staff Govenor, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

ECU governing bodies, equality and diversity in Scottish HEIs

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