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Race Equality Charter: Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to some frequently asked questions about various aspects of the Race Equality Charter.

Advance HE's Race Equality Charters team are happy to answer questions about award applications by email: We recommend that you please read the FAQs in advance of getting in touch.

Understanding the ‘original’ and ‘updated’ REC frameworks 

What do you mean by ‘updated’ REC framework? 

The REC framework, including all application materials and guidance, was updated and launched in July 2023 based on the recommendations of an independent review of REC, engagement with the sector and the expert advice of the Race Equality Charter Governance Committee. The previous REC materials which were in use from the establishment of the REC in 2015 are referred to as the ‘original’ framework. 

Will I need to sign up to the updated principles? 

Only minor changes have been made to the founding principles of the Race Equality Charter. Therefore, there is no requirement for an institution to re-commit to the principles if they have already done so. From July 2023, any institution wishing to commit to the REC principles for the first time (or after a break in their Charter membership) will need to submit confirmation from the head of the organisation (for example, Vice-Chancellor or equivalent) that they commit to the updated Charter Principles. You can find Institutional sign-up letter here. Once you have returned this letter, you will receive a co-signed certificate which you can use to help promote your race equality work to your community. 

Do we have to apply for a REC award using the updated application forms? When can we no longer use the original REC application form and materials? 

The original REC application forms will be available to applicants up to and including the November 2024 submission round. You are able to choose which forms you wish to use for your REC application until November 2024. After this date, only the updated REC application forms will be available. 

Does the flexibility in use of the core question areas in the updated REC survey also applies to the original survey - or only the updated survey? 

To ensure there is no confusion at point of assessment, we ask applicants to refer to the guidance for the relevant REC framework being used; i.e. if you are applying using the original REC framework including the original REC survey, you should follow the guidance relating to that particular survey.  

Can we use the updated REC survey if we are applying using the original REC framework? 

To ensure there is no confusion at point of assessment, we ask applicants to adhere to the requirements and application materials (including the survey) outlined in the guidance for the relevant REC framework being used; i.e. if you are applying using the original REC framework you should use the original REC survey.  

Does the updated Race Equality Charter include applicants from outside of the UK? 

The updated Race Equality Charter only applies in the United Kingdom. Information about the charter programmes outside the UK can be found on the International charters webpages

Using the updated REC framework 

When can we apply using the new criteria and materials? 

You can begin using the updated REC materials as soon as you are ready. The updated materials were published in July 2023 and can be used by applicants applying in the November 2023 submission round and onwards. You will need to declare your intention to submit two months in advance of the submission round and indicate which framework you intend to use. 

We do not have an award under the original REC framework. Can we go straight ahead and apply using the updated criteria and application materials? 

Yes, you can apply using the updated application materials, regardless of whether you already hold an award. All applicants can use the original application forms up to (and including) the November 2024 submission round or apply with the updated forms as soon as they are ready to do so. 

Do I have to apply at Bronze level if I am a first-time applicant? 

We expect all applicants that do not already hold a Race Equality Charter award to apply at Bronze level but if there are exceptional reasons for applying at a higher award level then please contact us. 

If you already hold a Bronze award (even if you applied under the original charter framework), you can apply for a Bronze renewal or Silver award. If you already hold Silver award (even if you applied under the original charter framework), you can apply for a Silver renewal award.   

When can we use the updated REC survey? 

The REC survey questions have been updated and are available for use straight away. To test the updated survey, Advance HE will be running a pilot project over the 2023/2024 academic year which will collect feedback from early adopters. If you are planning on using the survey during the 2023/2024 academic year and have not yet registered your interest in taking part in the pilot, please get in touch with the team on  

What is the difference between the original and the updated REC surveys?   

The updated REC survey contains brand new questions and the approach has changed as follows:   

  • Focus on three core race equality themes (sense of belonging, speaking up and communicating, culture climate) reducing duplication with other standard surveys.   
  • Streamlined number of core questions areas (12 compared to c.29-30 per survey in previous versions.  There are an additional suggested 17 optional question areas (with some overlap with the previous survey questions).   
  • Core question areas are now the same across student and staff groups to enable data collection and analysis - however there are optional staff and student specific question areas suggested.   
  • The survey approach to wording of questions has changed in line with current best practice principles in survey design to improve cognitive processing and reduce response error, to increase the quality of responses and produce a clearer narrative.   
  • Increased flexibility in how the survey is used. If you already explore the core question areas in existing surveys or consultation exercises - for example, you may already be collecting relevant evidence through an annual staff survey, the National Student Survey (NSS) or Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) - you are welcome to use the findings for your Race Equality Charter application rather than duplicate the question in a new survey, as long as you ensure that the question achieves the intended purpose of exploring the aspect of race equality identified in our guidance. 

How are the mandatory data sets within the updated REC framework different from the original REC framework?   

Data requirements within the updated REC framework are significantly reduced compared to the original REC framework. There are now 19 categories of data for universities applying for an award; these are the same for all applicant levels (Bronze, renewal, Silver). There is no longer a requirement to present data such as turnover data for leavers, induction or appraisal uptake, or training data.    

A key further difference is that we ask applicants include all data within the appendices, rather than in the body of the application. This is discussed below.   

Can we include other data in addition to the mandatory data sets?   

Yes.  The mandatory datasets are the minimum that applicants are asked to present. Applicants have the flexibility to choose to include other data that is relevant to their priority issues and race equality context or to support you to demonstrate success, as relevant to your race equality objectives.    

Is there a preferred format for the presentation of data?   

No. Applicants can choose to present the data in any format they wish. We advise that raw data is presented in both absolute numbers and percentages. While percentages allow useful comparisons between groups of different sizes, absolute numbers provide a context to put relative change into perspective (e.g. in cases where the raw numbers are small). The key consideration when deciding the format is that the data is clearly presented and the choice of visual representation (if any) is effective in highlighting key patterns, trends and issues.   

Please present all data, including charts and graphs, as well as tables, in an appendix.  

Can you clarify expectations for the data on ‘Professional, technical and operational (PTO) staff progression’?  

Some institutions have a formal promotion pathway for PTO roles; if this is the case, and the data is systematically collected, please include this data in your application.   

Institutions without recognised promotion routes or pathways for PTO staff are not expected to provide data on ‘applications and success rates for PTO progression’ (which is part of the mandatory data set for universities). The applicant can simply explain that the data is not provided because a formal progression structure for PTO staff does not exist.   

All applicants are encouraged to reflect on informal as well as formal progression pathways available to PTO staff and any ways in which career development is, or could be, supported (e.g. through secondments, mentoring, coaching, regrading of PTO roles). Applicants may choose to review regrading or internal recruitment data if available to support an evaluation of race equality within PTO progression routes, but this is not a requirement.   

What support will members be offered to understand and use the updated application materials? 

Advance HE are running a series of webinars to provide opportunities for new and current applicants to become acquainted with the new application materials. You can register your interest here

Will dissemination events be recorded? Where is the recording of the dissemination event? 

Yes, all dissemination events will be recorded and available on the Advance HE Connect REC space. 

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General information

Membership of the Race Equality Charter

- How does an institution become a member of the Race Equality Charter?
- What are the steps to applying for an award?
- Is there a fee for an award application submission?
- What happens if an institution is not successful in obtaining an award within five years of membership?
Find out more

Support from the Race Equality Charter team

- What are the contact details for the Race Equality Charter team?
- What is the level of involvement expected from the Race Equality Charter team before an application is submitted?
- Can a member of the Race Equality Charter team review an application prior to the submission deadline?
Find out more

Results and award validity

- Who is a member of the assessment panel?
- When will the outcome of an awards round be announced?
- Will successful applications be published online?
- How long is an award’s validity?
- When are the award rounds?
Find out more

Starting an application

- Which award should be applied for - Bronze, Bronze renewal or Silver?
- How long before submitting an application should the process begin?
Find out more
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