Oxford receives Bronze Award for racial equality

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The University of Oxford has received a Race Equality Charter bronze award from Advance HE, which aims to support equality and diversity for students and staff in higher education institutions across the UK.

The Equality Challenge Unit’s Race Equality Charter (REC) seeks to improve the representation, progression and success of minorities. It outlines a framework used by institutions to identify and address institutional and cultural barriers encountered by staff and students from ethnic minorities. The submission was prepared for two years and its impact will be evaluated in 2020.

In order to prepare their submission for the award, something that took Oxford two years, the University had to systematically investigate equality and diversity issues at Oxford. This included appointments to senior staff positions and undergraduate admissions.

The data was compiled from two Oxford Student Union race equality surveys, a University-wide race equality summit (2014), the International Student Barometer (2016), the Oxford SU’s student welfare survey (2016), the National Student Survey (2016), and the 100 Voices Campaign. Oxford additionally studied two undergraduate and three postgraduate focus groups.

From the data gathered, the University drew up an action plan comprising 11 objectives for the next three years. These reflect the most pressing issues which Oxford seeks to resolve. and include: establishing a Race Equality Action Plan Delivery Group; increasing the ethnic diversity; improving the overall experience of BME students; and achieving stronger representation of BME staff in decision-making at all levels across the University. These goals are designed to act as a foundation for building long-lasting change.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and University Advocate for Equality and Diversity, Dr Rebecca Surender, said on the matter: “This award is a first for the University and a milestone of our progress on the journey towards creating a racially inclusive institution. We know there is still a lot of work to do, but the structures we have now put in place leave us in a great position to address the main obstacles to racial equality at Oxford. The hard work starts now.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, also spoke out, saying: “We are committed to ensuring Oxford attracts, retains and nurtures the very best students, administrators, researchers and academics regardless of their ethnic or socio-economic background. As an institution, and as individuals, we know that the maintenance of our preeminent global position depends upon our ability to call on the talents and contributions of all staff and students.”

She went on to add: “in achieving the Race Equality Charter bronze award institutions are beginning their journey to address racial inequality by demonstrating a solid foundation for eliminating racial bias and a commitment to developing an inclusive culture.”