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Equality implications for ‘re-opening’ HE campuses in the COVID era

22 Sep 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE today publishes perspectives and discussion from our expert panel of academics and practitioners

In July 2020, Advance HE convened a webinar for membership institutions on the topic of EDI, ‘safety’ and the ‘re-opening’ of campuses. The webinar complemented our ‘Creating Socially Distanced Campus and Education project’.

The Safe(r) for Staff? Equality implications for ‘re-opening’ HE campuses in the COVID era report is a summary of the webinar and identifies the key themes which emerged, making recommendation.

The webinar speakers – and our audience participants who questioned them – brought a variety of views: academics, policy makers practitioners, and with a range of approaches: from lived experience, representations on behalf of specific networks, or looking at what we can learn by looking across boundaries – of countries, of staff/student divide, and of universities and the wider world of work.

Jess Moody, Senior Adviser Advance HE, and co-author of the report, said, “While the webinar format did not allow a detailed focus on all UK protected characteristics, or all ‘equality’ issues, we wanted to explore common themes or issues arising from the discussion.

Jess Moody, Senior Adviser Advance HE, and co-author of the report, said “While the webinar format did not allow a detailed focus on all UK protected characteristics, or all ‘equality’ issues, we wanted to explore common themes or issues arising from the discussion.

“There are no easy answers, and the ‘re-opening’ of campuses is subject to daily discussion: if, when, what, how and of course – who? The immediate health or economic risks of COVID are often intractable from underlying structural inequalities: so these risks fall disproportionately on different parts of our staff communities. We must continue to disaggregate and contextualise the generic ‘staff’ in these considerations: to understand and listen to the diverse needs, identities, and concerns of individuals and communities. It is more important than ever that EDI – as an aim, as an awareness, as way of acting – continues to be a priority for institutional policy and practice, and perhaps even to move more ‘centre-stage’”

The full report is available for Advance HE members: Safe(r) for Staff? Equality implications for ‘re-opening’ HE campuses in the COVID era

 

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