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Collaborative Development Fund 2021-22 - Inclusive institutions: enabling and supporting culture change

Research collating techniques and approaches that aim to transform, enable and support an inclusive culture, ways of working, or delivery of key strategic aims.

With a practical focus on addressing challenges, Advance HE funded (through our Collaborative Development Fund Project 2022) four institutions to explore the challenges of understanding, enabling and supporting an inclusive culture from student to board.

We invited applications to support a project entitled ‘Inclusive Institutions: enabling and supporting culture change’, which would involve collating, understanding and sharing practice to deliver organisational transformation in an inclusive and sustainable way. 

Aims and objectives

The principal aim of the projects was to collate and understand a range of techniques/approaches and lessons learned from current work to transform, enable and support an inclusive culture, ways of working, or delivery of key strategic aims.

The project will offer Advance HE members a rich and diverse evidence base of potential solutions which offer lessons learned and different practices to adapt and adopt.

Capstone report

In this report, Advance HE Senior Advisor Kim Ansell reflects on the CDF (collaborative development fund) projects, summarises how inclusivity as a strategic enabler for culture change operates in some HE institutions, and highlights practices and experiences that members can learn from. She concludes that while vision, purpose and context are all important and provide the anchor point from which stakeholders coalesce and collaborate, there are some key ingredients to successfully embed institutional culture and some challenges for leaders to recognise and embrace in order to develop and sustain momentum.
Download the report
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Funded projects

Imperial College London and the University of Reading

Supporting the Identity Development of Underrepresented Students (SIDUS)

This project showcases the impact of the Supporting the Identity Development of Underrepresented Students (SIDUS) project (funded by the Excellence Fund for Learning and Teaching Innovation at Imperial College London) which aimed to promote inclusion and diversity and support success for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) underrepresented students.

Focused on gathering robust evidence of the impact of the SIDUS project activities, Imperial and Reading demonstrate how institutional cultures can be changed through co-produced, research-informed resources, distributed in a ‘bottom-up’ way. Aligned to a meaningful staff-student partnership model they reflect on their contribution to positive cultural change at Imperial and Reading.

Imperial and Reading have produced evidence-based case studies, animated videos and a blog.

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Kingston University (in collaboration with the University Alliance)

The project explores a range of student engagement programmes across the University Alliance which have been developed to support inclusivity in their Universities. The intention was to analyse implementation to identify which initiatives drive inclusive cultural change. Each institution put forward at least one of their student engagements programmes to be included in the project. 

The project has aimed to identify the key ingredients which render these institutional initiatives as successful and to identify good practice across the six projects which will support meaningful, far-reaching, and sustained transformation.

Kingston University and the University Alliance have produced a portfolio of case studies, a toolkit and two videos outlining their findings and recommendations.

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University of Salford

Inclusive structures driving transformational change

Enabling Student Success (ESS), has been an institutional priority at Salford for the last two years. The University of Salford project was designed to aid understanding of the key cultural institutional enablers that drove the transformational change required to facilitate their ESS strategy.

They have developed an interactive case study which provides a narrative for how Salford culture identified the enablers for transformational change to deliver ESS. 

The key objectives of the project were threefold: 

  • to examine how an institution can encourage a new culture to evolve 
  • to investigate the differences in the facilitation of culture transformation between four diverse Academic Schools  
  • to measure the impact in relation to benefits to staff in terms of wellbeing, a sense of belonging, value, and career development.

The University of Salford has produced a set of digital assets which together form the interactive case study.

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Deakin University

A Day in the Life

Deakin University set about evaluating the feasibility and scalability of Deakin's A Day in the Life – an immersive learning experience. Their particular interest is in the potential of immersive technology to enact culture change at an institutional level. 

To facilitate institutional culture building, iBelong is a set of principles (belonging, safety, respect and inclusion) that sets a standard for students and staff at Deakin and is a formalisation of the University's commitment to the principle of belonging.

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