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Current Issues of Equality & Diversity in Higher Education David Ruebain Chief Executive, Equality Challenge Unit.

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Presentation on theme: "Current Issues of Equality & Diversity in Higher Education David Ruebain Chief Executive, Equality Challenge Unit."— Presentation transcript:

1 Current Issues of Equality & Diversity in Higher Education David Ruebain Chief Executive, Equality Challenge Unit

2 Equality Challenge Unit =Established in 2001 to promote equality for staff in higher education in the UK =Remit extended in 2006 to include students =Funded by the 4 UK higher education funding Councils, Universities UK and GuildHE =19 staff, based in London =Since August 2011 working with colleges in Scotland

3 Equality Challenge Unit ECU works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education and seeks to ensure that staff and students are not unfairly excluded, marginalised or disadvantaged because of age, disability, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or through any combination of these characteristics or other unfair treatment.

4 What we do Research and investigation Guidance Advice line Systemic change “beyond compliance” Chartermark? Networks REF, Research, sector specific work Equality Link Web resources

5 And also =Biennial Conference =Best practice =Regional support =Intersection with widening participation (OFFA) – increasingly important with changes to the sector (fees, core & margin, student “experience”)

6 45 years of legislation =From the Race Relations Act 1965 to the Equality act 2010 and 9 protected characteristics =Direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation, harassment, reasonable adjustments =Equal pay, positive action, procurement =The Public Sector Duty =Socioeconomic status?

7 Equality of what? =Opportunity =Outcome =Dignity?

8 Some Challenges in HE =BME staff ‒Underrepresentation; marginalisation =BME students ‒Differential degree attainment =Disabled staff/students ‒Disclosure ‒Lack of support for staff as compared with students =Older staff ‒Abolition of default retirement age

9 Challenges (2) =Gender ‒“Leaky pipeline” for women academics ‒Male students attainment and pastoral support =Sexual orientation ‒Harrassment =Religion and belief ‒Participation and access ‒Accommodating religious observance

10 Students – ethnicity =BME students increased from 14.9% in 2003/04 to 18.1% in 2009/10. =Increase in the proportion of BME students across all sub-categories, with the percentage of black students increasing at the fastest rate, from 4.4% to 5.9%. However: =Lower degree attainment than white peers =Lower continuation rates than white peers Higher levels of representation nationally

11 Ethnicity and type of institution (Runnymede: 2010, p.7)

12 Student subject choice by ethnicity


14 Source: ECU publication ‘Equality in higher education: Statistical report 2011.’ The degree attainment gap increased from 17.2% in 2003/04 to a peak of 18.8% in 2005/06 and was 18.6% in 2009/10. The attainment gap is highest between white and black students, where the difference was 29.8% in 2009/10.

15 The proportion of UK national, BME academics is slowly increasing (5.9% in 2003/04 to 7.0% in 2009/10). However – UK national, BME staff are more likely to on fixed-term contracts Less likely to be in professorial roles

16 Students – disability Of those students for whom disability information was available, the proportion known to have a disability increased from 5.5% in 2003/04 to 7.6% in 2009/10. =First degree undergraduate qualifiers known to have a disability were less likely to obtain a first class honours or upper second class honours degree (59.9%) than those not known to have a disability (63.4%). = Of those declaring a disability, students who were in receipt of DSA were more likely to obtain a first class honours or upper second class honours degree (60.2%) than students who did not receive DSA.

17 Students - Age =The AAB policy is likely to have a disproportionate effect on older learners. Over the past 7 years, the proportion of students aged 21 and under on entry has grown from 45.4% to 48.2%. In contrast, the proportion of students aged 36 and over has decreased from 21.3% to 18.4%.

18 Students – Gender =Over the past 7 years, there has been consistently more female students than male students in higher education. =Male students are more likely to attain a lower 2 nd or 3 rd class honours. =Male students are more likely to withdraw from course. =However – 52.4% of post-graduate student studying SET subjects are male.

19 What is the Research Excellence Framework 2014? =Successor to the Research Assessment Exercise =Process of expert review of research quality =Determines amount of research funding allocated to HEIs by funding councils from 2015-16 =Three key areas of assessment

20 ECU’s role in the REF Member of REF Equality and Diversity Advisory Group and observer on Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel. Workshops on equality requirements of REF for HEIs REF managers Commissioned by REF team to develop materials to support equality provisions of REF: Input into Assessment framework and guidance on submissions Guidance to panels on equality requirements Guidance on EIA and the REF (published) Information on developing a Code of Practice (published) Staff disclosure of personal circumstances template (published) Case studies on complex staff circumstances (published)

21 Lessons from the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 =Report into ‘Selection of staff for inclusion in RAE 2008’: Selection rate for staff with declared disability lower than for staff without declared disability 67% of male permanent academic staff selected in comparison to 48% of women. Women aged 30 – 50 particularly low rate of selection Selection rate of staff from the black ethnic group lower than for staff from other ethnic groups. Little change in selection from RAE 2001

22 Individual staff characteristics recognised in REF =Age =Disability (including carers of disabled people) =Gender reassignment =Marriage & civil partnership =Political opinion (Northern Ireland only) =Pregnancy & maternity =Race =Religion or belief =Sex (including breastfeeding and childcare) =Sexual orientation =Welsh language (Wales only) =Part-time and fixed-term employment status =Early career researchers

23 Individual staff circumstances and reduced research outputs Panel criteria allow for reduction in research outputs in relation to: 1.Clearly defined circumstances Early career researchers, part time working, maternity, paternity or adoptive leave, secondments or career breaks 2.More complex circumstances Disability, constraints relating to pregnancy or maternity in addition to clearly defined period of leave, caring responsibilities, gender reassignment, other circumstances related to protected characteristics

24 Why do anything? -Business case – diverse institutions perform better, particularly in a global, diverse environment -Legislation - compliance -E&D is part of core mission of research and teaching & learning

25 Systemic change work Concentrated on under-representation of women and BME staff in higher education Exploring culture change, not just support for individuals. Not just about “intent” May lead to a framework or kite mark Building on Athena SWAN principles

26 2011 UK HEI E&D Survey =Designed to measure progress against KPIs, assess the impact of work, set a benchmark and inform future priorities. =Good response: 114 E&D practitioners, 42 HoIs, 39 HR Directors. =High satisfaction – 87% “excellent” or “good”

27 But... =Desire for more shorter, pragmatic guidance =Tension between “pushing the agenda” and supporting compliance =Differing needs of the sector from mission groups, regions, types and size of HEIs

28 Contact details 7th Floor Queens House 55/56 Lincoln's Inn Fields London WC2A 3LJ Tel: 0207 438 1010

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