Advance HE has updated the Race Equality Charter (REC).
The Race Equality Charter helps institutions in their work to identify and address the barriers facing staff and students from racially minoritised ethnic groups.
The updated REC restructures the application process and streamlines the renewal process to make them clearer, more flexible and to reduce the data collection and administrative burden. The updated REC comes into effect, today, 31 July 23.
Regular reviews of the framework are enshrined in the Charter aims so that it stays relevant and effective in supporting applicants and members to achieve their race equality priorities in their own context.
This latest two-phase review included independent reports by Professor Nicola Rollock and Douglas Oloyede researchers and 18 months of close consultations with REC members with the guidance and oversight of the Race Equality Charter Governance Committee.
Dr Ruth Gilligan, Advance HE Assistant Director - Equality Charters, who has led the work to update the charter, said, “The work to tackle racism in higher education and research institutes is vitally important. Everyone in higher education – students and staff – should have the opportunity to thrive in an inclusive learning, working and research environment and in turn, the sector benefits from the full talents from every community.
“This upgrade, although routinely scheduled, is important in ensuring that the REC does its job effectively in supporting institutions as they map out their plans and actions for inclusive cultures and to tackle racism.
“The response from members in engaging with the consultation and testing of the new framework has been fantastic. I am also extremely grateful to the Race Equality Charter Governance Committee who devoted so much precious time to the process and have brought their wisdom and guidance to bear so diligently.”
A consultation about Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom was included in the process to update the Charter. As part of the update, Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech are now explicitly referenced in the Charter, and Advance HE will be publishing additional guidance for institutions in early autumn. This provides a mechanism to support universities so that Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom can be appropriately considered and embedded through their Charter activity.
There will be a transition period to enable current members who are already using the original REC materials to continue to do so up to and including the November 2024 submission round.
There are now 101 Race Equality Charter members, holding 38 awards between them. The Douglas Oloyede report highlighted that where the Charter is employed progress follows.
- Evidence in our annual ‘Equality in higher education: statistical reports’, in the ethnicity awarding gaps, in our Student Academic Experience Surveys, and from elsewhere in the sector, including Universities UK, shows that while progress is being made in the work to tackle racism and create inclusive institutions, there is more to do
- The Race Equality Charter is entirely voluntary and not prescriptive. Advance HE believes that a well-evidenced commitment to EDI is the most effective way to create and inclusive institution and tackle inequalities
- The Race Equality Charter recognises that there are different approaches to tackling race inequalities and it does not prescribe actions or encourage particular approaches. As autonomous institutions universities can employ the REC to help to create an inclusive institution through work relevant to their own context and rooted in evidence.