Eight British universities have become the first in the country to receive the Race Equality Charter Mark, an award recognising their efforts to promote racial equality on campus.
The Race Equality Charter was launched last year by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), a charity dedicated to supporting equality and diversity within UK higher education.
The charter was launched due to the continuing problem of racial inequality in the sector, which it said was limiting the potential of both individuals from ethnic minorities and the education sector as a whole. It aimed to develop a strategic approach to making cultural and systemic changes within the higher education sector, as well as making a difference to staff and students from ethnic minorities.
Out of the 30 universities that signed up to the charter, only 21 managed to complete it. Eight of the universities involved have received the ‘bronze award’, which recognises the quality of the work that has been done and the action plans that have been developed.
The universities that received the bronze award were De Montfort University, King’s College London, Kingston University, Royal Holloway University London, Staffordshire University, University of Hertfordshire, UCL (incorporating the Institute of Education) and the University of Manchester.
Sarah Dickinson, Head of Equality Charters at the ECU, told The Independent how difficult it was to win a charter award in its first year of existence due to the number of processes and practices that need to be implemented from scratch. She added that all of the universities that won awards had worked ‘extremely hard’ and she was delighted they could now celebrate the fruits of their efforts.
Vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, Dominic Shellard, explained how they won the award:
Institutions had to demonstrate their inclusive culture and determination to improve by preparing an action plan to tackle racial equality, as well as identifying any barriers to progression.
The vice-principal of King’s College London added that a critical assessment of the University’s performance with regard to racial equality was ‘long overdue’. He described winning the award as ‘a key step in is us becoming the diverse and inclusive organisation we want to be’.