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Equalitylink September 2016


Welcome September 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

Call to increase support for student mental health

HEPI report calls for funding increase

A report from the Higher Education Policy Institute investigating mental health support for students has called for universities to triple funding.

HEPI recommend all universities adopt mental health plans, and that the NHS allows students to register with doctors on campus while remaining registered with their home doctor to ensure continuity of care.

The invisible problem? Improving students’ mental health

A separate investigation by The Guardian found that the number of students seeking counselling at university has increased by 50 per cent over the last five years.

Guardian article: University mental health services face strain as demand rises 50%

Britain needs a comprehensive race equality strategy

Report shows extent of race inequality

In August the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a wide-ranging report into racial inequalities in Britain across all aspects of daily life. This includes education, pay and employment, living standards, health, criminal justice and participation.

The wealth of data and analysis included in the report shows that racial inequalities and racism are unfortunately very much a part of life in modern Britain. The Commission calls for a comprehensive race equality strategy to be developed at a national level, or we risk further exacerbating divisions in society.

While several findings relate directly to higher education outcomes, the report is useful to evidence the widespread and societal inequality and racism that will impact on the lives of minority ethnic staff and students on and off campus.

Healing a divided Britain: the need for a comprehensive race equality strategy.

Also in August, the prime minister Theresa May launched an audit of public services to reveal racial disparities. Whitehall departments will identify and publish information showing how outcomes differ for people of different backgrounds, in a range of areas including health, education and employment.

Government audit of racial disparities

HE gender pay gap

JNCHES report finds positive change, but more to do

UCEA (the Universities and Colleges Employers Association) and unions EIS, GMB, UCEA and UNISON have released a review of gender pay gaps in higher education. Produced as part of the New JNCHES pay negotiation agreement, ECU also took part in developing the report.

The New JNCHES Higher education gender pay gap data report highlights that there has been good progress in reducing the gender pay gap in higher education, and that the HE sector now has one of the smallest gender pay gaps.

The need for continued action to reduce the gender pay gap is a government priority in all four countries of the UK, and the report underlines that there is sector-wide consensus that pay gaps are unacceptable.

Positive news on HE gender pay gap

Unconscious bias in admissions

Pilot projects announced

A group of universities is to pilot using name-blind applications to some courses as part of work by UCAS to see if this will aid fair admissions.

The name-blind projects follow a report from UCAS on potential unconscious bias in the admissions process. The report found that universities have a high level of awareness of the risks of potential bias in admissions decision-making and are employing a range of strategies to combat these.

ECU welcomes name-blind admissions

UCAS unconscious bias report.

Stern review of the REF

Equality considerations of the recommendations

Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework was released at the end of July. The review made a number of recommendations following representations from universities and sector bodies.

Research Excellence Framework review: Building on success and learning from experience

ECU Senior Policy Adviser Ellen Pugh has put together a short paper on the potential equality considerations of the review’s recommendations, which you will find alongside our initial response to the review.

ECU’s response to the Stern review of the REF

HERAG steering group

New members announced

The Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG) is made up of equality and diversity professionals, academics, students and other individuals interested in advancing race equality in higher education.

HERAG recently announced the names of the new steering group following high levels of interest in the posts.

  • Nona McDuff: chair with special interest in HERAG strategy and lobbying for race equality
  • Kevin Coutinho: vice-chair with special interest in professional/support staff
  • Professor Kalwant Bhopal: vice-chair and special interest in BME academic staff
  • Professor Jacqueline Stevenson: special interest in religion and BME students
  • Kanja Sesay: special interest in BME students and student partnerships
  • Sophie Mataba: special interest BME student employment

The steering group will also be supported by Andrew Fisher, who will advise on data analysis and usage, and Dr Gurnham Singh, who will advise on perspectives of race equality.

About HERAG.

Our work

Staff equality in Scotland’s colleges

Establishing baseline data

ECU is one year into a three-year project that aims to improve staff equality in colleges in Scotland. The Supporting workforce diversity: progressing staff equality project aims to establish a baseline of equality for college staff and support improvement for any challenges identified.

The project is overseen and supported by an advisory group made up of representatives from UNISON, Education Institute of Scotland, College Development Network, and college staff with responsibility for equality and diversity, and human resources.

The advisory group identified three key areas of work:

  • Data collection, monitoring and use.
  • Staff experience, flexible working and adjustments.
  • Progression routes and influencers in relation to disability, race and sex.

Work under the data strand is progressing and ECU has conducted initial research into the mechanisms used by colleges to collect and update equality data which will inform guidance on monitoring and disclosure across all protected characteristics.

As part of the staff experience strand of the work, ECU will be conducting a national staff experience survey of all college staff followed by more targeted focus groups. The survey will go out through colleges early next year and we will be in touch with colleges directly to discuss this in more depth shortly.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Millar.

ECU’s Scotland team

Update and contact details

Freya Douglas left ECU earlier this month to embark on a new career in the health sector.

David Bass, previously one of our senior policy advisers for Scotland, has taken over as Programme Manager.

We’ve also recently welcomed a new member to our team, Anne Ireson, formerly of Edinburgh Napier University, and we will be recruiting shortly to find a fourth team member.

The Scotland team is now all based at the NUS office in Edinburgh and comprises:

  • David Bass, Programme Manager. Tel: 0131 3223736
  • Stephanie Millar, Senior Policy Adviser (colleges). Tel: 0131 3223737
  • Anne Ireson, Policy and Resources Officer. Tel: 0131 3223735

Impact of leadership development on BME academics

Research project

ECU, Leeds Trinity University, University of East London and University of Bradford have formed a research team working in partnership with the Leadership Foundation.

ECU is part of a team of researchers from across the sector who have been commissioned to investigate how leadership development can address contextual and institutional issues surrounding the careers of black and minority ethnic (BME) academics and professional services staff.

The research will also investigate the impact of leadership development on progression, success and representation of BME leaders in higher education. The research team is led by Professor Jan Fook, director of the International Centre for higher education research at Leeds Trinity University.

The team will develop recommendations for institutions on implementing strategies and policies to diversify leadership, and for the further development of leadership programmes.

ECU and partners selected for BME research

Get involved

ECU conference 2016: Connect, collaborate and share

Free places for subscribers close today

Time is running out for ECU subscribing institutions to redeem their free place at our national conference, which takes place on 29 and 30 November 2016 at Nottingham Conference Centre

Places must be booked by the end of today (Friday 30 September 2016). A reminder email with a unique registration code has been sent to the primary contact in each institution.

Any places left unclaimed on 1 October will be released to a waiting list and be available at the standard delegate rate.

Register now

Let’s talk about race

Be part of a national conversation on race

Conversations about race can be difficult to have, but they are the vital first step in making a difference to race inequality.

To coincide with the announcement of the latest round of Race Equality Charter awards ECU and the Race Equality Charter team want to instigate a nationwide conversation about race and the higher education sector, and we want you to be involved.

On Thursday 20 October 2016 we will be conducting a lunchtime webinar between 12:00 – 13:00. A panel of experts on race and the higher education sector will be on-hand to take your questions.

The webinar will also be recorded and will be available to watch afterwards.

Register to take part in the conversation.

Not able to join us for the webinar? Submit your question to us on Twitter using the hashtag #raceinhe2016. We will then put them to our panel on your behalf.

Follow the hashtag throughout the webinar too #raceinhe2016.

Bullying and harassment on campus

New workshops on promoting dignity and respect on campus

ECU has developed workshops to cover a broad range of issues around dignity and respect, and bullying and harassment on campus. This will include the legislative context, the various forms of bullying and harassment, developing formal and informal processes and rebuilding teams following complaints and investigations.

This workshop is free and open to staff working in universities that subscribe to ECU. Please note that places are limited to a maximum of two per institution.

  • Wednesday 19 October: London
  • Tuesday 25 October: Manchester
  • Thursday 17 November: Bristol

Book your place

How fair is your recruitment process?

Lunchtime webinar series November – December

The recruitment process is often the first point in their engagement with an organisation that minority groups can experience an adverse impact.

These three lunchtime webinars will be open to all colleagues involved in staff recruitment in ECU subscriber institutions, and those we support in Scotland and Wales.

The webinars will consider the recruitment process through the lens of diversity with a focus on how to tackle bias, promote inclusion and increase diversity.

Bringing together relevant academic research, the law and best practice from a variety of sectors these interactive webinars will consider three key stages of the recruitment process:

1: Attraction: 25 November, 12:30-13:30

  • Where and how to attract diverse applicants
  • The role of head hunters
  • Increasing the accessibility and inclusiveness of person specifications and application forms

2: Shortlisting and assessment: 8 December 12:30-13:30

  • Challenges of assessment and shortlisting including bias in assessment
  • Positive action and practices and process that increase diversity

3: Interviews and selection: 9 December 12:30-13:30

  • Adverse impact in the interviewing process
  • Reducing bias in the interview process
  • Implementing relevant law such as the tie breaker
  • Tackling questions of fit and managing the transition of the ‘out group’ employee into their new team

Registration will open in October.

Resources and support

Equality in colleges in Scotland: statistical report 2016

Equality information on college students

The fifth ECU statistical report for colleges in Scotland presents an equality-focused analysis of 2014/15 further education statistics collated by the Scottish Funding Council.

Data and analysis is provided on age, disability, ethnicity and gender, the intersectionality of these identities, and for the first time on the optional protected characteristics religion and sexual orientation.

Equality in colleges in Scotland

Prevent duty guidance

Updated framework and guidance

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has released an updated framework for monitoring how higher education institutions are complying with the Prevent duty in England.

The framework also sets out how HEFCE intend to support institutions to meet the duty and enable effective sharing of experience and good practice.

Updated Prevent duty framework

Updated training materials have also been added to the Safe campus communities website.

Causes and motivations of hate crime

EHRC research report

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a research report into the causes and motivations of hate crime, written by researchers from the University of Sussex.

This is the first time that evidence and emerging insights on the causes and perpetration of hate crime has been brought together in this way, with insights from the law, policy and social science.

Causes and motivations of hate crime


Black History Month

Throughout October 2016, nationwide

Events are being held at universities and colleges across the UK.

You can find national listings on the Black History Month website.

Share your events online and on Twitter using the hashtag #BHM2016.

Black History Month 2016

World mental health day

10 October 2016, international

World Mental Health day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

The theme this year is dignity in mental health – psychological first aid for all, and is a good opportunity to share your work on campus supporting mental health for students and staff.

Share your events online and on Twitter using the hashtag #WMHD16.

Challenging the silence in higher education: race and racism in the academy

13 October 2016, London

A one-day symposium organised by academics at Goldsmiths University London and LSE, featuring well-known academics, speakers and students leading panels on a variety of themes, exploring the experiences of being black and ethnic minority academics and professionals in higher education.

Challenging the silence in HE

Athena Lecture

2 November 2016, Liverpool John Moores University

The latest in Liverpool John Moore’s Athena lecture series features a line-up of three speakers from STEM and non-STEM backgrounds to continue to explore possible ways of making progress in your chosen career whether in the sciences or arts.

Athena lecture

Rights and equality of disabled people

3 November 2016, University of Manchester

The inaugural Lord Morris of Manchester Memorial Lecture event, in honour of the late Lord Morris, the world’s first Minister for disabled people, is organised by the University of Manchester’s disabled staff network.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, decorated Paralympian wheelchair racer, crossbench peer in the House of Lords since 2010 and a renowned public speaker, will be taking the lecture.

You can follow the event on Twitter: #LordMorrisMcrLecture

Lord Morris lecture

Gender Summit 9

8-9 November 2016, Brussels

The ninth international Gender Summit focuses on gender-based research, innovation and development for sustainable economies and societal wellbeing. Over 70 speakers and 300 delegates will be discussing how an understanding of sex/gender issues in research and innovation can also ensure sustainable and effective development.

Gender summit 9

Interrogating differential outcomes in degree awarding: towards a post-race pedagogy

16 November 2016, University of Chester

An event organised by the Forum for research into equality and diversity at the University of Chester. Dr Gurnam Singh and Professor Glynis Cousin will lead a seminar which will seek to provide a brief historical and contemporary overview of the issues commonly known as the BME attainment gap.

In so doing, the seminar will highlight some of the contradictions and complexities on both conceptualising the problem of attainment and developing appropriate pedagogical interventions.

Interrogating differential outcomes in degree awarding

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.