Light Yellow

Race Equality at Royal Holloway



The Race Equality Charter (RECM)

‘Improving the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education’ (Equality Challenge Unit)

Royal Holloway was one of the first 8 institutions to have been successfully awarded a bronze level RECM award in the 2015 pilot round of the RECM and in February 2019 the College successfully renewed its Bronze award. Our engagement with this Charter demonstrates our commitment to establishing an inclusive culture within which all individuals, irrespective of their race or ethnicity, feel supported and can thrive. It shows our commitment to improving the representation and progression of Black and Global Majority staff and students at our College and beyond. You can read Royal Holloway's February 2019 RECM submission here: 

Royal Holloway Race Equality Charter February 2019 submission redacted

The Race Equality Charter was established by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU, now Advance HE).

The Charter provides institutions with a framework which they can use to undergo a process of self-reflection, and identify institutional and cultural barriers which may hinder the representation and success of Black and Global Majority staff and students. Institutions can apply for awards and are required to submit an action plan as part of their submission.

The RECM is underpinned by five guiding principles and covers:

  • professional and support staff
  • academic staff
  • student progression and attainment
  • diversity of the curriculum

Institutions can progress from the Bronze to the Silver Award.

Royal Holloway is currently actively working on a range of projects to remove barriers for Black and Global Majority staff and students, including targeted coaching and mentoring schemes, and a project to further diversify the curriculum and pedagogy. 

During Black History Month 2017, the College carried out a Race Equality Survey to explore experiences of staff and students from different ethnic background 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. We are extremely grateful to all participants who took time out of their busy schedules to complete the survey.

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 informed our 2019 Bronze Race Equality Charter renewal application. This submission included a 4-year action plan, the progress of which will be monitored by our dedicated College Race Equality self-assessment team. 

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.

We identified a number of positive developments. For example:

  • 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 a Black and Global Majority background agreeing;
  • 50% of Black/British Black students agreed that the content of their course reflects opinions of a wide variety of people, an increase from 45% in 2014;
  • 61.1% 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;
  • 51.6% 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, we are aware that 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 an ethnicity student attainment gap in some departments and an under-representation of leaders from Black and Global Majority backgrounds.

We are addressing these issues through carefully designed actions. In 2018 we launched the MANDALA programme, a Black and Global Majority career development programme which focuses on supporting colleagues to understand and get round systemic barriers as well as build resilience. However, our ultimate focus as an institution is on deconstructing these precise barriers. As part of this, we have now made unconscious bias training mandatory for line managers, revised appraisal and promotion processes to ensure they have greater transparency and accountability built in to them and have embedded a greater focus on unconscious bias in recruitment and selection training. The launch of our Student Success project in 2018 has resulted in the development of a suite of ‘diversifying the curriculum’ activities. Further planned action around race equality includes ensuring new policies and practices undergo our new Equality Impact Assessment process and promoting awareness of covert racism through our upcoming Guide to Microaggressions at Work, part of a new suite of Royal Holloway E&D Top Tips guides which complement existing policies and which will be disseminated across the College.The College has formed a Black and Global Majority staff Network and works very closely with the Student Union Black and Global Majority REP.

We understand that we have a challenge to remove barriers for staff and students from Black and Global Majority backgrounds at Royal Holloway and are committed to taking action to ensure we promote equality of opportunity for all.

If you would like further information on the survey, or equality and diversity activities in general (including support networks), please email


Resources and links

Black History Month and Beyond - message from Professor Tracy Bhamra, Senior Vice-Principal (student and Staff Experience)

Black History Month 2021

Black and Global Majority Staff network

The Mandala Programme (BAME career development Programme)

Politics in Action

Equality and Diversity news

Race Equality news

View a talk with Melody Hobson on: 'Colour blind or colour brave?'

Advance HE 'Tackling racism and race inequality' resources.


Black History Month 2021