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Second phase of the Race Equality Charter review underway

13 Jul 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE has launched Phase 2 of its review of the Race Equality Charter (REC). Douglas Oloyede consultants have been appointed to manage the project.

Advance HE has launched Phase 2 of its review of the Race Equality Charter (REC). Douglas Oloyede consultants have been appointed to manage the project. The Charter, launched in 2015, is a framework for institutions to self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers for fair opportunities for BAME staff and students, and reviews of the REC are enshrined in its aims. The 2020 review provides the opportunity to ensure that the Charter remains ‘fit-for purpose’

Phase 1 of the review, led by Dr Nicola Rollock, was completed in 2019. Dr Rollock is a specialist in racial justice in education and the workplace. The first part of the review was an independent initial review of previous submissions to look at components making up successful applications and common areas for improvement. Key findings from Phase 1 include:

  • The REC usefully provides an important set of principles aimed at underpinning the work carried out by members including the survey about the views and experiences of their BAME populations but more support is needed to shape understanding of race.
  • More work is needed to support institutions understand race and racism which can then enable them to work proactively to eliminate racial disparities and improve the success and outcomes of BAME staff and students.  
  • Data is being collated in a conceptual vacuum with a lack of understanding or engagement of how race and racism operate resulting in actions lacking specificity, ambition and rigour.
  • A lack of focus on activities and initiatives aimed at white staff and leaders, and the ways in which structural inequalities manifest and remain embedded and perpetuated through processes and policies (focusing on systems of white privilege and power which are central to improving racial justice).

These recommendations are key to shaping the overall review. We have now delivered ‘Introduction to race equality’ sessions to our panellists (many of whom are on their own university REC self-assessment teams) and have offered more exploratory sessions on how racism manifests in higher education. We are planning more webinars and events to support the understanding of race.

Phase 2 of the review will be an Independent Research study involving REC members and stakeholders. The focus of this phase will be on:

  • Exploring the experiences of award-holders, applicants, and our REC Signatories when engaging with the process.
  • Establishing a baseline for future reviews of the impact and value of REC on enhancing race equality in member institutions.
  • Identifying areas where the processes or practice of the charter could be enhanced.

Kathryn Harrison- Graves, Director for Membership and Accreditation said, “This review is really important. Recent events around the world highlight the need to accelerate the drive for fair representation and equality.

“The REC is an excellent enabler in supporting institutions in achieving equality for BAME students and staff. The review will help to ensure that the Charter remains an up-to-date catalyst for change. I would really encourage institutions and individuals to take the opportunity to engage with the review – we’re very keen to get input to help shape the Charter for the next five years and we’re looking forward to working with you.”

Over the coming months, Advance HE will actively engage REC key contacts, SAT members, academics, professional services and students in the review. Douglas Oloyede consultants will be carrying out a survey open to colleagues across the sector along with focus groups and interviews of REC key contacts and individuals involved in the self-assessment process details of which will be shared across our platforms. The Phase 2 report is expected in the Autumn this year.

If you, or any of your colleagues, would like to be involved with this research project to help shape the next stage of the Race Equality Charter, please contact RaceCharter@advance-he.ac.uk.

There are now 66 institutional REC members, 15 of which are award holders. Advance HE supports members through networking events, good practice events and award ceremonies to recognise award holder’s achievements.

Dr Nicola Rollock is an academic, consultant and public speaker specialising in racial justice in education and the workplace. Dr Rollock is a Reader in Equity & Education at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is a member of Wellcome Trust's Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group and the British Science Association’s new Equality & Diversity Advisory Group. She is also Specialist Adviser to the Home Affairs’ Select Committee’s ‘Macpherson 20 Years On’ Inquiry.

Douglas Oloyede are highly experienced equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) consultants and researchers. They have significant experience of reviewing and evaluating HE sector initiatives with specific knowledge of race equality. They have worked on projects for NUS Scotland, HEFCW, UKRI & The British Science Association.

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