Durham University signs up to the Race Equality Charter

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Durham University has recently committed to Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter (REC).

The main aim of the Charter is to “improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.”

The REC, which was fully launched in January 2016, provides a framework which allows institutions to identify potential barriers which minority ethnic staff and students can face.

The main aim of the Charter is to “improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.”

It also seeks to diversify university curriculums and develop initiatives to help target identified areas of concern.

By committing to the Race Equality Charter, the University will aim to adhere to its five fundamental guiding principles in its policies, practices, action plans and cultures.

These principles include the beliefs that “racial inequalities are a significant issue within higher education,” and that “UK higher education cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population.”

The REC also outlines the importance of “achieving long-term institutional culture change,” recognising that “minority ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group,” and therefore considering the “intersection” of different individual identities “wherever possible.”

Rachel Archbold, Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion, told Palatinate: “signing up to the REC offers a clear framework to enable the University to build on our work in this area.

Durham University has seen a rise in applications from BAME candidates from 2012-2018 from 19% to 31%, including applicants from over 100 countries

“Our commitment to the Charter’s principles emphasise and promote a culture and environment where BAME staff and students are attracted to the University and feel welcome and engaged whilst they are here so that they stay to complete their studies or carry out their work.

“It will help to deliver an improved experience for our international students and staff, as well as support the University’s plans to attract, utilise and retain talented staff members of diverse backgrounds.

“This will also be linked with other shared institutional activities such as widening participation and diversifying curriculum. Although a lot of work is yet to be done, signing up to the REC demonstrates the University’s strong commitment to our diverse community and to an inclusive environment where everyone is respected.”

Ms Archbold also outlined Durham University’s recruitment process, which pays “close attention to equality and diversity at every stage” through job descriptions being worded “inclusively” and roles being “subject to international search and advertising campaigns”

Photograph: @EduRaceCharter via Twitter

Institutions which sign up to the REC can apply for a Bronze or Silver award, reflecting the level of their progress.

A Self-Assessment Team (SAT) have been established, formed of students and staff, to lead this work. Over the next two years, they will work towards applying for a Bronze REC award in 2022.

Professor Simon Hackett, Associate Provost and Chair of the REC SAT said: “We are delighted to sign up to the REC. This is an important reflection of our desire to address racial inequalities as part of the University’s wide-ranging commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion.

“The framework will help us to identify what we can do to support the representation and achievement of our minority ethnic staff and students across our whole University community.”

This is an important reflection of our desire to address racial inequalities as part of the University’s wide-ranging commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Professor Simon Hackett, Associate Provost and Chair of the REC SAT

Durham University say they have seen a rise in applications from BAME candidates from 2012-2018 from 19% to 31%, including applicants from over 100 countries. In the University’s most recent campaign, 22% of candidates accepting offers were BAME.

The BAME attainment gap (proportion of students achieving a first or 2.1 degree compared to the whole undergraduate population) has closed from 13% to 7% in recent years. The University has invested significantly in ongoing initiatives around Academic Skills Programmes and Inclusive Learning Initiatives.

Ms Archbold also highlighted that BAME (particularly black) students are a “key consideration for the University in its current round of Access and Participation Plan preparation.”

She told Palatinate: “Black students are just as likely to receive an offer for Durham as other UG applicants, however, they apply in much lower numbers.

“The challenge facing the University is to work with external organisations and communities to increase applications from talented young people from across BAME communities.

“This year the existing Supported Progression scheme for 2019 opened recruitment to London, reserving places for at least 20 talented black students.

“We continue to engage with BAME students studying at Durham in order to ensure that our work centres on their experience and expectations.”

The University has also worked with the Reach Society, a social enterprise which supports and inspires young black people to strive for educational and professional success, to promote the scheme and encourage applications from eligible black students.

“We continue to engage with BAME students studying at Durham in order to ensure that our work centres on their experience and expectations.”

Rachel Archbold, Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion

A launch event is due to be held in May in order to promote the work around the REC and to encourage a dialogue within the University community on race and equality.

This event will include a speech on “diversifying the curriculum” and another on “fostering inclusivity and belongingness”, along with a panel discussion on the topic “tackling racial disparities in higher education: a look on curriculum and student experience”.

Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA) told Palatinate: “Signing up to the Race Equality Charter shows an improvement in the University’s recognition that issues of race are still prevalent in the UK, especially when it comes to the diversity of staff and students at the UK’s elite universities.

“Their signing up is a step in the right direction, and an attempt to commit to the mission of improving access to Durham Uni for POCs.

“As the student association responsible for the representation of POCs in Durham University, we would be interested in working with the University to explore the best avenues for improving racial diversity and ensure they follow through on the commitment to strive for racial equality.”

Further information on the Race Equality Charter can be found here.

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One thought on “Durham University signs up to the Race Equality Charter

  • Durham University promoting slave morality 🤮

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