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Advance HE welcomes the British Academy report: Advancing Equality in Higher Education: An Exploratory Study of the Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charters

13 Mar 2019 | Advance HE With the review of Athena SWAN already underway, and the review of the Race Equality Charter planned later this year, Advance HE welcomes the British Academy report.

With the review of Athena SWAN already underway, and the review of the Race Equality Charter planned later this year, Advance HE welcomes the British Academy report.
Dr Ruth Gilligan, Advance HE Assistant Director – Equality Charters, said,

“This report is an important contribution to the evidence base informing both reviews. It highlights the positive impact the charters are having in enabling positive change in advancing gender and race equality in universities - and the good practice and impact arising from charter engagement. The report also substantiates acknowledged areas for improvement, such as the administrative workload of the charters which can fall in substantial part to the people the charters aim to support. 
“The steering group review of Athena SWAN aims to reduce the administrative workload of the charter while maintaining its robustness. In parallel with the reviews, Advance HE is exploring electronic submission and peer-review systems which will make the process more user-friendly and streamlined for applicants. Additionally, through our broader work, Advance HE continues to focus on sharing good practice across the sector.”

The Race Equality Charter (REC) provides a framework through which institutions work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students. The charter has just exceeded the 50-member mark and there are now 52 universities who have committed to the REC principles. Advance HE aims to explore the charter processes and the experiences of members and applicants through a review in 2019/20

The full list of REC award holders and members is available on our website:

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. There are currently 162 Athena SWAN members in the UK and Ireland, holding 767 awards between them.

In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The Athena SWAN review steering group is chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, vice-chancellor and president, Brunel University London, and includes representatives from a range of geographies, institution types and professional backgrounds.  Its role is to lead an independent review of the gender equality charter on behalf of Advance HE and its owners Universities UK (UUK) and Guild HE. 

The group will provide oversight and expertise on behalf of the sector to ensure a robust and credible consultation process, make recommendations about implementation to inform changes to Athena SWAN in the UK, and advise on the policy and positioning of Athena SWAN. 

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