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Consultation aims to explore a holistic approach to equality, diversity and inclusion

26 May 2022 | Advance HE Work has begun on an independent consultation with the sector to explore the potential for the development of a holistic approach to EDI in higher education.

Newcastle University (NU) has been awarded funding from Advance HE’s Collaborative Development Fund to explore the potential for a new holistic approach to EDI support. 

Exploring a holistic approach to equality, diversity and inclusion is led by Professor Judith Rankin, Dean of EDI at NU, and project managed by Freya Douglas Oloyede, a member of the EDI team at NU and experienced EDI research consultant. The project aims to produce a robust evidence base to frame recommendations for how Advance HE should invest in and develop EDI activity to support the sector to be effective, efficient and impactful.

This potential approach will allow institutions to focus on those equalities – be it disability, socio-economic status, poverty, health, wellbeing; it could be a singular focus or combination that suits their context. This will also enable institutions to take a more holistic approach and be more joined up in their equalities work, which may currently be siloed

The research includes collating and understanding stakeholder views on the range of potential benefits, opportunities and risks of developing a holistic approach to institutional EDI accreditation. If the consultation determines there is the appetite for something new, it would sit alongside Athena Swan and REC and provide an option for institutions to engage with. The consultation will gather existing practice and lessons learned from Advance HE members’ efforts to take a holistic and strategic approach to EDI activity, including the work of international members and partners engaged in Advance HE’s licenced equality charters.

Professor Judith Rankin said:

“We are excited to undertake this important and timely research project. At Newcastle University, as in other institutions, we have had many conversations about how we can align and enhance our EDI work to increase efficiency and maximise impact, while ensuring we retain sufficient emphasis on each protected characteristic. Alongside this, as a longstanding Athena Swan member and award holder, and being currently in the final stages of our first REC submission, we are aware of the importance of avoiding any potential negative impacts on existing work and commitments.

“We feel strongly that any future development should be sector-led and inclusive of institutional perspectives representing the diversity of the sector, and so the approach we have designed in collaboration with Advance HE and the advisory group is one of genuine consultation. We will facilitate discussion and debate among key stakeholder groupings to capture different perspectives through an online survey, roundtables and scoping workshops. We also hope to hear from you if your institution has developed any effective practice in integrated/holistic EDI approaches that could inform our research and recommendations.

“We are looking forward to connecting with you over the coming months.”

David Bass, Interim Associate Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Advance HE said:

“A key commitment in Advance HE’s new strategy is to explore the potential of a holistic approach to EDI that will support members to focus on those equalities that matter most to them.

"This potential approach will allow institutions to focus on those equalities – be it disability, socio-economic status, poverty, health, wellbeing; it could be a singular focus or combination that suits their context. This will also enable institutions to take a more holistic approach and be more joined up in their equalities work, which may currently be siloed."

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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