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Women in HE Conference 2021

The role of Governance in Equality in Higher Education

Governance should influence -  and drive progress in – equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for students and staff, and wider society.

From the student awarding gap to the gender pay gap, there is much to address. At a minimum, Boards and committees must deliver assurance to ensure the organisation is meeting EDI related statutory and regulatory requirements.  Key to this is building the confidence, knowledge and skills of individuals and groups in the governance system.

Lord Simon Woolley

Now is the time for us to really put our foot on the equality and equity gas. It’s a shame it’s taken such pain to put issues like this on the map, but if we have transformative change from it, I’ll take that.

Lord Simon Woolley
Director and founder of Operation Black Vote (OBV)
Commissioner for race on the Equality and Human Rights Commission
Chair of the government's Race Disparity Unit’s advisory group

Want to know more about The Role of Governance in Equality?

The information pack for The Role of Governance in Equality in Higher Education contains links to all the resources and content available on this page plus more.

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Connect Benefit Series: Diversity and inclusion – the critical governance role

How do boards help their institutions make further progress to address equality, diversity and inclusion?

We know that institutions need to drive diversity and inclusion in all that they do. Governance has a critical role to play in this. Both by modelling diversity and inclusion in the make-up and function of the board, but also through enabling and challenging their institutions to make progress with and for their staff and students.

Our Connect Benefit Series comprises outputs including webinars, publications and blogs. The series is open to colleagues at Advance HE member organisations only. Find out if your organisation is a member.

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Services for Governing Bodies

We can provide tailored services to universities, private providers or further education colleges offering HE to ensure that Governors and governance professionals have the resources they need to promote good governance in their institutions.

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The role of Governance in Equality in Higher Education reports, publications and resources

Advance HE has curated a number of resources to support the understanding of the role of Governance in Equality in Higher Education provider. These include guides as to the importance of EDI in higher education, the challenges in supporting the diversity of staff and students, and the responsibilities of the board in overseeing the providers legal and regulatory duties.

The importance and challenges of equality, diversity and inclusion in higher education

The best talent is highly mobile, and institutions perceived as not being diverse, or failing to take EDI seriously, are likely to be avoided by individuals and groups who believe they might be disadvantaged. While some progress has been made in increasing and supporting the diversity of staff and students in higher education, significant challenges remain. Governing bodies need to be aware of the challenges and ensure that they have received appropriate assurance that action is being taken. Download the guide.

Overseeing equality, diversity and inclusion plus questions and resources

Institutions need to be compliant with the legal and regulatory requirements placed on it in relation to EDI. If an institution is found to be non-compliant, it will be exposed to reputational and financial risks. To ensure compliance, governors need to seek assurances from the executive that the institution is delivering on its legal duties and regulatory requirements. Download the guide.

Governing well, with and beyond COVID-19: Governance briefing 2020-21

As part of our Member theme for October 2021, ‘Diversity and inclusion – the critical governance role’ Victoria Holbrook, Assistant Director, Governance and a UK university board member, has written a briefing for all higher education governors and governance professionals. It covers six key areas of focus for governing bodies in 2020-21.  Download the guide (members only).

Find out if your organisation is a member.
 

More resources, reports and publications

You will find links to more resources, reports and publications in our information pack on the role of governance in equality in higher education.

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Governance and equality, diversity and inclusion case studies

Governors discuss their experiences working to support, embed and champion equality, diversity and inclusion within their institutions.

University of Exeter

Dual Assurance

Bettina Rigg, lay member of Council and dual assurance lay lead for HR and Equality and Diversity, University of Exeter discusses her experience of the dual assurance model of governance for the institutions commitment to EDI

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University of Exeter

Manchester Metropolitan University

Championing EDI

Barry Harwood, Manchester Metropolitan University Board of Governor’s Equality and Diversity Champion and member of the Nominations and Governance Committee discusses his involvement with the equality agenda at his institution.

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Manchester Metropolitan University

University of the West of Scotland

Governor Recruitment

Dr Wai-yin Hatton, Chair of Court, University of the West of Scotland discusses how her own background has enabled her to contribute to Court discussions and decision-making around diversity.

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University of the West of Scotland

Cardiff University

Championing EDI

Ruth Williams, Staff governor, Cardiff University member of Council, Trustee of Cardiff University Pension Scheme, Vice-Chair Staff LGBT+ Network discusses raising awareness about the diversity of our staff and students.

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Cardiff University

University of Bath

Seeking assurance

Michael Hipkins, University of Bath, lay member of Council, lay member of the Equality and Diversity Committee. Also, deputy chair of the Council of Buckinghamshire New University examines assessing a university’s progress on equality and diversity.

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University of Bath

University of the West of Scotland

Governor skills sets and attracting young people

Margaret Gibson, University of the West of Scotland lay Court Member, Member of the Policy and Resources Committee, Chief Executive of Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Funding Director of Rummle Gumption Ltd discusses how a diverse governing body is needed to ensure that a range of views and experiences are considered in discussions.

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University of the West of Scotland

Edinburgh Napier University

Get on board

The ‘Get on Board’ competency pathway places and supports students with boards of local charities, voluntary organisations and public bodies. They network with professionals and help make decisions which impact their community. The team supports with training, networking, mentoring and career guidance. In 2015, the pilot was awarded a Herald HE Award for Enhancing Student Learning.

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Edinburgh Napier University
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