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The Next Steps for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Advance HE's Inaugural Conference in Ireland

The Next Steps for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – From inclusive leadership and culture to embedded equitable practice.

The Next Steps for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – From inclusive leadership and culture to embedded equitable practice

The inaugural Advance HE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) conference in Ireland focussed on EDI priorities for higher education across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The conference provided an opportunity for delegates to consider the contextualised aspects of EDI as they relate to embedding EDI in institutional strategies and ensuring implementation across the institution. In particular, there was specific focus on enabling action and a culture that supports equality across all equality grounds through inclusive leadership - recognising the extensive work already being undertaken in on gender equality across the island of Ireland.

The conference considered the challenges and opportunities for leading a strategic approach to EDI. The event showcased good practice from across Ireland and the UK and share how Advance HE continues to support the sector in this change agenda.

Date: 10 June 2021
Venue: Virtual
Who: All higher education professionals

We were pleased to host two leading voices on EDI as keynote speakers, Professor Sally Mapstone, University of St Andrews, Scotland and Professor Ivana Bacik, Trinity College Dublin. Further, the conference provided opportunity to hear from panel contributors and colleagues about ‘what works’ for to tackling inequalities in higher education in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Within this context, delegates were invited to consider how to approach challenges on race and addressing practical implementation of strategy and activities around the equality grounds. Delegates were challenged to consider strategic solutions that truly deliver on leading inclusion and culture change for their institutions. Delegates ended the day with some practical insights and actions to implement within their institution and were inspired to consider more strategic approaches to institution-wide EDI activities.

Join the conversation at #AHEIreland21

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The conference theme focussed on the next steps for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) priorities for Irish higher education. It provided an opportunity for delegates to consider the varied aspects of EDI as they relate to embedding EDI in institutional strategies and ensuring implementation across the institution. In particular, there was specific focus on enabling action and a culture that supports equality across all equality grounds through inclusive leadership - recognising the extensive work already being undertaken in the sector on gender equality. 

The afternoon sessions at the conference considered in more detail the equality grounds of race and gender in the context of higher education across the Republic and Ireland and Northern Ireland. The workshops offered practical research and intelligence, resources and tools to support institutions in taking the next steps in relation to race equality and gender equality as well as demonstrating how Advance HE can support the sector in this agenda for change. 

Ahead of the conference, panel member Dr Amanullah De Sondy discussed the challenges to race equality in higher education in Ireland.

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Download Resource

Advance HE's Inaugural Conference in Ireland Programme

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A fully digital conferencing experience

The Advance HE's Inaugural Conference in Ireland was delivered online on our virtual conference platform. This provided a flexible, immersive and engaging digital experience where delegates could develop their practice, share their ideas and grow their network. All delegates will had access to the following features:

  • a full day of live-streamed sessions of speakers, panel discussion and workshops addressing current issues in higher education
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments during all sessions
  • full online support throughout the day
  • flexibility to attend sessions at leisure with access to all session recordings after the conference allowing them to browse and catch up on anything that may have missed at a time suited to them
  • resources area where delegates can obtain copies of recent reports from Advance HE and partners as well as relevant and contemporary resources 
  • opportunity to interact with other delegates from around the world in a virtual networking space.
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Keynote speakers

Mainstreaming Diversity

Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE

As Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Professor Sally Mapstone directs the University’s Strategy and is responsible for the University’s operations. She is also Vice-Convener for Universities Scotland, a board member of Universities UK, a trustee of UCAS and of the Europaeum, and a member of the Higher Education Policy Institute’s advisory board. In 2017, she received the Foreign Policy Association of America medal for services to higher education.

Find out more about Sally

Sally Mapstone

Professor Ivana Bacik

Ivana Bacik is a barrister and Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin. She is a Senator for Dublin University (first elected in 2007; re-elected in 2011, 2016 and 2020). She leads the Labour group in Seanad Éireann. Her research interests include criminology, feminist legal theory and equality law; her publications include Legal Cases that Changed Ireland (co-edited with Mary Rogan, Clarus Press, 2016). She chaired the Oireachtas ‘Vótáil100’ Committee programme in 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland.

Ivana Bacik
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'In conversation' speakers

Informal discussion on leading a strategic approach to EDI – driving the change

David Bass - Session lead

David leads the strategic development, planning and delivery of Advance HE’s programme for universities and colleges in Scotland. He brings a wealth of experience working with the Scottish sector, in governance as well as strategic planning and management, SFC Outcome Agreements, and equality and diversity. He previously managed the ‘Diversity in Governance’ project in Scotland, supporting the sector to successfully improve the diversity of governing bodies and meet recent government legislative priorities, and enhance effective oversight of equality and diversity in colleges and HEIs.

Find out more about David

David Bass

Dr Orla Flynn

With over twenty years’ experience in education management, Dr Orla Flynn commenced her role as President of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in March 2020, having been Vice President for External Affairs at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) for the previous six years. Prior to that she led the CIT Crawford College of Art and Design for 8 years following periods as Head of School of Humanities and Head of Department of Media Communications at CIT.

Find out more about Orla

Orla Flynn

Nicola Doherty

Nicola is a senior sales leader in LinkedIn, responsible for leading the Education business in Europe, Middle East, Africa  & Latin America. Nicola works with Education Institutions to help transform how we all learn and support their efforts to build the skills needed for the 21st century. Nicola also leads Out@In, LinkedIn Dublin’s LGBTQ employee resource group which supports the LGBTQ employee community in LinkedIn.


Nicola Doherty

Mpho Mokotso

A gender-based violence activist, MASI member, freelance columnist, Town Planner (MA) and (BA) Development Studies and History. Mpho has over 10 years working experience in public sector as a technical planner. Mpho has also worked in academia as a lecturer and Program Leader (Faculty Management Group) and management of small and medium enterprises. Mpho has just completed two certificates in Leadership and Community Development (L6) and Property Management. (L5). Mpho has been living in direct provision from August 2019 and recently been granted Permission to Remain.

Mpho Mokotso

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Panel speakers

Race Equality – how to approach challenges on race

Dr Arun Verma - Panel lead

Dr Arun Verma is the Head of the Race Equality Charter at Advance HE. He completed his doctorate exploring the role of intersecting personal and professional identities in professional education, and has gone on to lead the design, development and implementation of anti-racist and intersectionality into programmes, policy and practice across academia, government and the third sector in both national and global platforms. He is editing an anti-racism action book titled ‘Anti-racism in higher education: An action guide for change’ and is co-editing a book exploring intersectional and racism in the aid sector using an intersectionality lens.

Arun Verma

Dr Amanullah De Sondy

Dr Amanullah De Sondy is Head of the Study of Religions Department, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam and Chair of Race Equality at University College Cork (UCC). Aman is the author of 'The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities' (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) and 'An Introduction to Monotheism: Judaism, Christianity and Islam' with M.A. Gonzalez and W.S. Green (Bloomsbury Academic 2020) . Aman is a regular media commentator and has been broadcasting BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for over 15 years.

Amanullah De Sondy

Owen Patrick Ward

Owen Patrick Ward is a native of Galway City and is a member of the Irish Travelling community. He graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with a B.A. (Hons) and Masters in Post Primary education (PME). In addition, Owen is a Programme Coordinator at the Access Centre, NUI Galway, is a member of National Anti-Racism Committee, Royal Irish Academy Higher Education Futures Committee, a member of the University of Sanctuary initiative, Places of Sanctuary Ireland, European Roma Rights Centre, as well as numerous Irish Traveller organisations.

Find out more about Owen

Owen Patrick Ward

Sahar Ahmed

Sahar Ahmed is a barrister and member of The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, an Advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan, and a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin's School of Law, where her research focuses on the right to freedom of religion and Islamic jurisprudence. Sahar has previously studied and worked in London, at various human rights organisations, including Amnesty International. She can be found on twitter @saharisright 

Sahar Ahmed

Dr Ebun Joseph

Dr Ebun Joseph is a race relations consultant and Director Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies. She was a Teaching Fellow at Trinity College Dublin where she taught the undergraduate module on race, ethnicity and Identity and on the Master’s programme, where she developed and taught the module on Intersectionality of race and gender. She developed the first module in Black Studies and critical race theory in Education at University College Dublin. 

Find out more about Ebun

Ebun Joseph
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Parallel workshop speakers

Tackling Racism on Campus: From Critical Conversations to Action to Accountability

Dr Nighet Riaz 

Nighet leads the race equality project at Advance HE, launched in response to the EHRC report on racial harassment. She is an associate lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), teaching on the topic of equality and inclusion. Nighet is an active member of the British Educational Research Association, where she co-convenes the Special Interest Group on Race, Ethnicity and Education. She is also a training and development partner in the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE), a member of the education subgroup of the ‘Tackling Islamophobia’ cross party group at Holyrood, and the Equality Officer at her local SNP branch.

Nighet Riaz

Khadija Mohammed

Khadija is a Senior Lecturer and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the School of Education and Social Sciences. Her PhD centres on race equality by exploring the lived experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic teachers in Scotland with a focus on celebrating their cultural, linguistic and religious identities. Khadija is the co-founder and Chair of SAMEE. This is a community-led organisation providing support to educators and those in support and guidance roles across the Scottish Education system – nurseries, schools, colleges and universities.

Find out more about Khadija

Khadija Mohammed

COVID Impacts on flexible working and caring responsibilities

Ellen Pugh

Ellen Pugh is a Senior Adviser for Advance HE, specialising in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Ellen has worked to promote EDI in the HE and FE sector since 2004 and joined former ECU in 2009. She previously worked as Policy Director at Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (now Disability Rights UK) and in the governance division at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has worked with research intensive, small and specialist and post 1992 institutions and with a range of sector and government organisations on EDI issues covering staff, students, applicants and alumni.

Find out more about Ellen

Ellen Pugh

Dr Ross Woods

Dr Ross Woods is Senior Manager of the Higher Education Authority’s Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. He has led the HEA’s work on gender equality and other areas of equality, diversity and inclusion since June 2019. This has included initiatives such as the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative, the first ever National Survey of Race Equality in Irish Higher Education and, more recently, work to address sexual violence and harassment in higher education institutions.

Ross Woods
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