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Home Article Together we’ve come a long way

Together we’ve come a long way

Published: 09/09/2014

As a sector we have made progress, says Chief Executive David Ruebain, and with the support of vice-chancellors and principals, we can continue to develop the case for equality

As a sector, we understand equality and diversity better than we ever have. As an organisation, Equality Challenge Unit has raised the profile of under-representation and disadvantage in higher education. As a sector we have together implemented and embedded strategies to make progress.

But there remain chronic issues in respect of both staff and students which need urgent attention.

Together we must tackle occupational segregation and the gender, disability and ethnicity pay gap. We must acknowledge the barriers that exist in student access, retention and attainment, take action to foster a more diverse student population and commit to reducing degree attainment gaps.

But we know these issues are not easy to resolve. ECU is striving to assist you in addressing these stubborn problems:

  • We are developing further qualitative and quantitative evidence so together we can illuminate, investigate and share equality demographics and challenges.
  • We are supporting your equality and diversity practitioners, HR managers and heads of student service through our publications, workshops and training.
  • We are helping institutions to mitigate legal, financial and reputational risks through our guidance and advice line.
  • We are challenging institutions with programmes such as our equality charter marks.

The imperative to address these problems are not only legal and moral: There is increasing recognition that advancing equality and diversity complements and enhances the core functions of universities – teaching, learning, research and knowledge exchange. We must accept and embrace that there is strength in diversity.

As neither regulators nor campaigners, we are leading the drive for advancing equality and diversity in higher education.

Together with vice-chancellors and principals, we continue to develop this case for equality. We hope to share the evidence, motivations and drivers of these leaders and encourage others to become visible and active champions for equality. Working with your governing bodies, we are encouraging and developing diversity in their membership. We hope to share evidence and practical guidance with other institutions soon.

The partnerships we have with your institution ensure that the variety, context and experiences of universities are reflected in national equality policy. As the sector diversifies, we must continue to raise the bar for ourselves and deliver the best experience possible for those learning, working and teaching in our universities.

Your continuing support for ECU is vital. Working together, we can act to change policy and practice within institutions and face, head on, the stubborn issues that continue to exist.