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Aiming for a globally inclusive culture

02 Oct 2020 | Joe McCarron University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is excited to be part of the consultation on a version of the Race Equality Charter appropriate for small and specialist institutions.

Joe McCarron

UCA, Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity Manager
"We have, in recent years, been on a journey from, historically, being a small specialist University predominantly recruiting both staff and students from the localities of our four campuses in Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham and Kent to being a modern outward looking institution that is still small and specialist but one that has a global outlook and an active programme of internationalisation.

"I have been with the University for less than two years in a new role that is particularly focused on adding a focus on inclusion to our longstanding equality and diversity commitment. 

"Much of the inspiration to aim for a globally inclusive culture came from our Vice Chancellor, Professor Bashir Makhoul who joined UCA in 2017. He started out as an ambitiously creative child, wielding the family knife as a tool for sculpting figures from the rubble of a nearby bombed out village. He progressed his professional career as an artist and a leader in the UK. Along with an understanding that the creative industry is a vitally important force in the world, he brought his passion for diversity and inclusion - particularly cultural diversity and inclusion - to UCA.

"He joined various members of our academic teaching staff who are particularly active on the topic of addressing systemic equality and promoting inclusive practice. While we are not yet at the stage we want to be in having an embedded culture of inclusive teaching practice, many students in a recent consultation spoke positively about the diversity of resources they encounter in the learning here. They also noted the extent to which inclusive teaching practice is a vital component of their studies. One member of staff conducted an important piece of research on the experience of racialised minoritized students at UCA and that work continues to inform our training on Inclusive Teaching Practice, Inclusive Leadership and Inclusion for Staff. Various specialists in our Quality team are actively involved in a range of crucially important EDI themed work. As are various senior leaders and students.

"We are not likely to ever have that large centralised EDI team that large HEIs do- although it’s a nice thought. It would create the capacity to produce a much higher volume of work. It would however, I think, be at the expense of creatively engaging with a variety of staff and students across UCA on the work of EDI.

"My hope is that we can get to a version of REC that is appropriate for SSIs and that we can achieve the Charter through the collaborative efforts of a cross cutting team of interested individuals and groups who bring a variety of skills and perspectives to our work in eliminating inequality and promoting inclusion. I think that working towards achieving the REC as such a team will provide an important point of focus for addressing racial equality and inclusion at UCA and consequently, equality and inclusion here in general.

"Having Charter status will be an important external signifier to prospective students and staff of the work that we do in pursuit of that important goal."

The Race Equality Charter (REC) aims to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students within higher education. The REC was launched in 2016, following a successful pilot and currently we have 66 higher education member institutions and 15 bronze award holding institutions.



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