Last year, during Black History Month, the College carried out a Race Equality Survey to explore experiences of staff and students from different ethnic backgrounds at Royal Holloway. The survey was designed by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) which manages the Race Equality Charter, a framework designed to help institutions improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.
All staff and students were invited to participate, with 360 students and 236 staff completing the survey, a 356% increase in response rate since the last survey in 2014.
Susan Lee, Equality and Diversity Officer, said: “We are extremely grateful to all participants who took time out of their busy schedules to support this initiative. Findings have fed into our new Royal Holloway Equality Objectives 2018-2021, which we are finalising following a series of consultations with staff and students throughout February and March.
Survey findings will also inform our Bronze Race Equality Charter renewal application which will include a 4-year action plan.”
Race Equality Survey responses were analysed by ethnicity to identify and understand differences in experiences and perceptions; and where possible, compared to responses in the 2014 survey.
A number of positive developments were identified.
- 80.9% of staff overall agreed that they would recommend the institution to a prospective staff member (an increase from 69% agreeing in 2014), with 74.4% of staff who consider themselves to be from an ethnic minority background agreeing;
- 63.6% of Black/British Black staff agreed that work-related opportunities for development, such as temporary promotions or profile-raising opportunities, are allocated fairly and transparently. This has increased from 50% in 2014.
- 88.3% of students overall agreed that they would recommend the College to a prospective student (an increase from 81% in 2014), with 78.7% of students who consider themselves to be from an ethnic minority background agreeing;
- 59.5% of Black/British Black students agreed that, when relevant, issues of ethnicity and race are included in academic discussions, an increase from 55% in 2014;
- 43.1% of Asian/Asian British students agreed that In their experience, students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are included equally at all students’ union events and societies, an increase from 38% in 2014.
While some of these findings indicate that the College is progressing in the right direction, they also highlight the need for more targeted work and commitment. Some of the further issues identified include low confidence that the College would take action following a race-related incident, occurrences of racial discrimination on campus, and low confidence in the fairness of the selection and recruitment process.
A consideration of wider data sources relating to race and ethnicity has also revealed (a) an ethnicity student attainment gap in some departments and (b) an under-representation of leaders from ethnic minority backgrounds.
In order to address the identified attainment gap, a dedicated working group has been formed to further analyse data and explore solutions. As part of a suite of actions to address the under-representation at leadership level, a targeted programme will be offered to support the career and personal development of staff from ethnic minority backgrounds seeking promotion to senior roles. These activities are part of a wider initiative within the College to ensure a level-playing field in practices and procedures: actions have included anonymising academic promotion applications, and reviewing our Recruitment and Selection training to further highlight unconscious bias.
The College has formed a staff Cultural Diversity Network and works very closely with the BME student REP.
Professor Rosemary Deem, Vice Principal (Teaching Innovation; Equality and Diversity) & Dean of the Doctoral School, comments: “We understand that we have a challenge to remove barriers for staff and students from ethnic minority backgrounds at Royal Holloway and are committed to taking action to ensure we promote equality of opportunity for all.”
For further information on the survey, or equality and diversity activities in general (including support networks), please email Equalityrhul.ac.uk
As a ‘thank you’ a donation of £1 is being made for every survey completed, with participants being asked to choose one of 4 charities. The following sums have been donated:
- £112 for the Sickle Cell Society
- £45 for the African Caribbean Careers and Employment Support Services UK (Access UK)
- £388 for Rethink Mental Illness
- £37 for UK Black Pride.
For information on E&D activities, news and resources at Royal Holloway please visit our webpages.