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Durham University

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Durham REC Updates and Events

REC survey findings, self-assessment activities and action planning

The University’s Race Equality Charter Survey ran from November 2019 until January 2020. Apart from being a mandatory element of the REC process, the REC Survey was conducted in order to gain an understanding of workplace and student cultures at Durham University, and to provide a benchmark against which to measure progress. A total of 1,411 staff and students participated in the REC survey with 836 staff members and 575 students.

Focus group sessions were also held to understand the issues raised in more depth, as well as to capture the views and experiences of staff and students. Findings from the survey and focus groups will inform both the REC application and the development of a race equality action plan to systematically improve race equality at Durham.

We would like to thank all the staff and students who took part in the survey and focus group sessions, and all REC SAT members who contributed in analysing the data and in facilitating the focus group sessions. A summary of the consolidated report can be viewed here

Since the completion of the survey analysis, as part of the self-assessment process, the REC SAT’s five working groups met in June 2020 in order to revisit the requirements for the charter mark application and their activity plan as well as discuss relevant sections of the REC survey. The working groups also examined the key issues emerging from qualitative and quantitative staff/student data collected, and began generating ideas and suggestions for the institutional REC action plan which aims to address the issues and disparities identified.

From July to September 2020, the working group members will continue reviewing qualitative data from the REC survey and focus group sessions in conjunction with student data from the Academic Office and staff data from HR, to inform the development of the institutional REC action plan and the writing of the charter mark application. Recommendations gathered by the EDI Unit from Black Lives Matter communications/petitions from staff and students as well as suggestions from stakeholder groups will also feed into the institutional REC action plan.

To achieve sustainable and long-term impact, the development of the REC action plan requires input and commitment from the whole institution; and so, by September/October 2020, consultation with staff and students will be taking place. The action plan will undergo further refinement based on feedback obtained through the consultation process. The final REC action plan and application for the charter mark are scheduled to be submitted to AdvanceHE by July 2021.

Race Equality Charter Launch Event

We want our whole community to be able, and have opportunities, to discuss race equality issues – particularly how they are reflected in our curriculum and student experience.

To support this, on Thursday 23 May we held a launch event for our work on the Race Equality Charter (REC) at Elvet Hill House.

This was co-hosted with the Oriental Museum and attended by over 50 staff and students.

Professor Simon Hackett, our Associate Provost and Chair of the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team, spoke about how we are addressing racial disparities in the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and students. He acknowledged that although much work has been done, there is still much to do.

George Walker, President of Durham Students’ Union, spoke about the importance of the Race Equality Charter, saying that the University signing the Charter and the Vice-Chancellor’s recent pledge to be part of the work to close the BAME student attainment gap are positive steps.

Dr Jason Arday, from the University of Warwick, the event’s first keynote speaker, encouraged guests to think critically about the issues surrounding pedagogy. Some of the questions he raised were: "Does our curriculum reflect a multi-culturally diverse Britain?" and "Does our curriculum provide an accurate capturing of British history that acknowledges the role of ethnic minorities within that endeavour?"

On the other hand, the second keynote speaker, Amatey Doku from the National Union of Students (NUS), discussed racial inequalities in terms of student experience by drawing on his personal experience as an undergraduate student at Cambridge University. He also drew attention to the presence (or lack) of a sense of belongingness and its impact on student attainment.

The keynote speeches were followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion on tackling racial disparities (in the context of the curriculum and of student experience); which was moderated by Dr Arday. The panellists included Amatey Doku, Vice President (Higher Education) and Deputy President of the National Union of Students (NUS); Phoebe Archbell, President of our International Students Association; Christopher Jones, a PhD student from the Sociology Department and active member of the our BAME Network; and Seun Twins, President of Durham People of Colour Association.

Each panellist was asked questions that focused on diversifying the curriculum and on addressing racial disparities in the context of student experience. The panellists brought to light some of the ensuing racial issues across the University and have also put forward proactive actions to tackle these.

The event finished with a drinks reception at the Oriental Museum, which currently features the ‘Things from Home’ exhibition - inspired by the experiences of international students.

The REC is part of our wider work on race equality. It is also linked with our pledge to support the recommendations outlined in the joint report by the NUS and Universities UK on BAME students' attainment gap. These include providing strong leadership; having racially diverse and changing cultures; developing racially diverse and inclusive environments; getting the evidence and analysing the data on the attainment gap; and understanding what works. Through the launch event, members of the University community are being urged to take ownership and to demonstrate their commitment to institutional change as they seek to eliminate various forms of racial disparities.

Durham’s REC Self-Assessment Team

A REC learning session conducted by a charter expert from Advance HE was held in 30 January 2019. The session aimed to provide a better understanding of what the REC process will entail. It was well-attended by staff members and students—majority of whom currently sit on the REC Self-Assessment Team (SAT); which is leading the work around REC.

The REC SAT members come from various backgrounds, grades and areas of the University, including representatives from minority staff and student groups. The team is being chaired by the Associate Provost. Five working groups composed of REC SAT members and other staff/students have also been formed to address the various sections of the REC application.

To access the REC SAT Terms of Reference and to find out more about the REC Working Groups and the current REC SAT members, please click here.

REC Contacts

REC SAT Chair:

Prof. Simon Hackett, Associate Provost;

REC Lead:

Rachel Archbold, Head of EDI;

REC Facilitator:

Melanie Earnshaw, Policy Support Advisor;