Blog: Our progress in promoting race equality on campus

Author Professor Gita Sedghi is a National Teaching Fellow, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Professor in Chemistry Education, Chief Liverpool Moderator for XJTLU, Chair of the Culture & Student Experience Subgroup of the Race Equality Charter and member of the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team.

The University of Liverpool has signed up for the Advanced HE’s Race Equality Charter to tackle race inequality on campus. Chairing the Culture and Student Experience Subgroup has allowed me to contribute meaningfully to race equality, an area close to my heart. I am passionate about the potential of education to promote equality, regardless of gender, ethnicity or any other protected characteristics. My vision is to inspire, engage and transform a diverse community of students through inclusive teaching and learning. As a woman of colour teaching Chemistry and researching in education, I have put my own experiences of the challenges of accommodating to a new country and educational setting into practice to create an inclusive environment for both home and international students. The subgroup provides a framework to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of racially minoritised students.

We have made significant progress in gender equality through undertaking Athena Swan applications. This work has taught us valuable lessons in terms of appropriate resourcing, capacity, and engagement at all levels to ensure continued momentum and impact; we will utilise our experience to promote race equality. The Race Equality Charter is a critical journey through which we will use our data to develop bold and ambitious plans to address racism and cultivate a more inclusive university. Therefore, we are confident that the framework developed by Advance HE, coupled with institutional experience and resources, will deliver meaningful change.

Alongside the REC application, there have been a number of developments to ensure strong foundations for long-term work, one of which was our Tackling Racial Inequalities Action Plan. We have also grown our training for staff and students on race equality issues and reporting racist incidents.

The Culture and Student Experience Subgroup’s work focuses on the student journey, from admission and beginning your studies through to your learning, awarding, and continuation to postgraduate study. We will also look at the services and schemes in place to support student success outside of academic settings, for example, activities that support Employability, and also consider student employment experiences on campus.

Our sub-group also has Guild representatives (staff and Officer) and we plan to use the outcomes of the May 2022 REC Survey and follow up focus groups to further steer our work.

Student-led change

The Culture and Student Experience Subgroup have already made progress by developing actions to meet our commitment to the REC, including:

  • The Centre for Innovation in Education to host the Inclusive Curriculum Tool to gain an overview of the inclusivity of modules or programme-components, particularly race equality.
  • All University Student Services staff to maintain their knowledge and awareness of race equality through regular race equality training delivered by a third party.
  • All Student Services teams to record and review the number of race hate crime incidents reported to the service on a regular basis in order to take any appropriate action.
  • All Student Services teams to accurately record the number of racially minoritised students accessing the service; a mandatory requirement for Student Services’ new Case Records Management system.
  • The English Language Centre to run regular conversation clubs hosted by home students, provide opportunities for students to reflect and discuss race equality issues, incorporate more diversity of speakers in lectures and seminars, including a variety of texts for research Projects and use a wider range of multimodal assessment formats.
  • Career and Employability to run an Enterprise Employer Challenge for racially minoritised students to provide enhanced employability experiences for these students – this will involve employers providing authentic project briefs and students working in collaborative groups with C&E mentors to meet the project specifications.
  • Career and Employability to create a report to assess what percentage of BAME students access embedded Employability within the curriculum and set targets as appropriate to increase the number.
  • Taster’ lecture on PhD study and careers targeted to racially minoritised students to increase the proportion of underrepresented groups who are successfully appointed onto Postgraduate Research Degrees.
  • To follow up the outcomes of the workshop series delivered by the Guild and PGR society to explore racially minoritised student perceptions of barriers to PGR study. The outcomes will be used to frame potential activities and provide data for future planning on PI/Supervisor training and changes to the university process.
  • The Centre of Innovation in Education and the Academic Quality and Standards Division to look into provisions to include inclusivity and race equality in the validation and revalidation processes of programmes.
  • The University to become an alliance member of Black British in STEM (BBSTEM), an initiative which aims to support and champion Black students across science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

I would like to thank my colleagues in the Culture and Student Experience Subgroup for their hard work and commitment to improving the representation, progression and success of racially minoritised students at the University of Liverpool.

Find out more

If you have any questions about the work of the Culture and Student Experience Subgroup please email Gita Sedghi.