Magazine article Times Higher Education

Race Results: 'Charter Mark' to Surmount Hurdles to BME Equality: News

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Race Results: 'Charter Mark' to Surmount Hurdles to BME Equality: News

Article excerpt

Equality unit to pilot third initiative to foster greater fairness in academy. Elizabeth Gibney reports.

Racial equality is to become the target of a new higher education "charter mark".

The Equality Challenge Unit, which runs the Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science and the gender equality charter mark in the arts, humanities and social sciences, will launch a pilot of the award next year to inform its full roll-out in 2015.

To achieve the mark, universities will have to demonstrate their efforts to dismantle the barriers facing black and minority ethnic academics while recognising that different groups face different problems, said Claire Herbert, senior policy adviser at the ECU.

Staff survey results, data on the number of BME staff at different levels, retention and timescales to promotion are all likely to come under scrutiny, she added.

The accolade, which like Athena SWAN will be awarded at the bronze, silver and gold level, will cover postgraduate students and professional and support staff, as well as academics.

It will apply to whole institutions, rather than just departments, and depending on feedback may also seek a "holistic view" by including undergraduates, she said.

Calls to create the mark came from within the sector, Ms Herbert explained, including members of the Higher Education Race Action Group, a cross-sector network of experts that asked why a mark existed for gender equality but not for race.

Kalwant Bhopal, reader in education at the University of Southampton, told Times Higher Education that she was in favour of the initiative.

"I think the mark will not only make institutions think about race equality issues - because quite frankly I don't think they do - but also encourage them to think about their own practices and institutional culture," she said. …

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