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Race Equality

This page details the University of Chester Race Equality journey.  From our proactive response to the events of May 2020 to systematic and ongoing change.  

In June 2020, following an open letter from the Vice Chancellor on the University's position on racism, the University of Chester established a Race Equality Challenge Group to promote and co-ordinate positive change in relation to race equality and diversity across all sites, Faculties, and Professional Services of the University of Chester. This Group reviewed the practical and tangible changes that could be implemented to make a real difference in how all members of the University feel about and respond to race equality at the University of Chester.

The Race Equality Challenge Group (which continues to meet regularly) has a small core membership – the Vice Chancellor; the HR Manager for Organisational Development and Equality; the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer; student representatives at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; two members of academic staff; two members of Professional Services staff and Chaplaincy representation. The group consults widely, details below, however, it is important to highlight that this Core Group comprises a range of ethnicities, ensuring that the burden of 'fixing the problem' is not left to only Black, Asian, and minority ethnic staff to solve.

The Vice Chancellor is the Chair of the Race Equality Challenge Group and this Senior Leadership commitment ensures that race equality is at the heart of the culture, the centre of the strategy, and at the very core of our mission, vision, and values.

Following 12 months of focussed race equality work, we reflected on our achievements the Vice Chancellor delivered an update​ reflecting on the last 12 months of Race Equality at the University; RARA Education delivered an event titled "One Year On: A Post George Floyd Britain - Part 1: A critical reflection on the post-George Floyd sociocultural climate in Britain and came together in person for the first time since lockdown to celebrate achievements in 2020/21.

Below are some key actions the University has completed in the pursuit of Race Equality:

  • A Race Equality Challenge Staff Focus Group was facilitated in early July 2020 with over 50 motivated and engaged staff, keen to make a difference attending. This provided staff with a safe place to share their experience and emotions and enabled all who attended to learn from these experiences and actively engage in the conversation. Many, many actions arose from this discussion,  and, as a result of the consultation, actions were taken forward to accelerate progress on race-related institutional targets in the University's Access and Participation Plan; to promote and support specific educational interventions (including, but not limited to, decolonising the curriculum); to explore how historic antecedents reflect on the current University; to review faith spaces; to review staff culture and to review the student journey from applicant to alumni.
  • Through the work of the group, the University's practices, policies and programmes have been closely examined to ensure the impact on race equality is closely identified and action is taken to address any inequalities.
  • The Race Equality Challenge Group hosted a student consultation event, Raising Our Voices, in September 2020. With keynotes addresses from Akil Hunte, a multi-award-winning law graduate from Nottingham Trent University, and the University of Chester's Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Student Representative at the time, Arfana Ali, this event was an opportunity for all who attended to engage in a focus group to provide their views on the priorities for the Citizen Student Strategy. This event gave students a real opportunity to give their views on the positive changes that need to take place across the University, help bring about long-term change, and have their voices heard, all in a very safe space. Over 50 Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students attended and the event was a great success. While some students told upsetting stories about their experiences, the event did what we hoped which was to provide a space for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students to come together, share their stories, and raise their voices. Again, many actions came from this which the Challenge Group is taking forward.
  • The Group developed the role of Student Race Advocate. A number of Student Race Advocates have been recruited each year since the 2020/21 academic year. All Student Race Advocates are students of Black, Asian, or other minority ethnic backgrounds, both home and international. The race advocates actively support and promote the needs of Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic students by contributing to many aspects of the University's work, ensuring excellent service delivery across the University of Chester. They work to improve inclusivity and availability of student opportunities; provide support for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students and provide help with welfare issues, reaching out to hard-to-reach students; partnership working with staff on a range of topics; policy input and development; providing mentoring, buddying and reverse mentoring and developing conferences and events. This is a paid role and gives the students undertaking this opportunity a vast variety of experiences through promoting race equality across the University of Chester. To find out more about what our Student Race Advocates are up to this year, have a look at their Instagram
  • The establishment of a Race Equality Discussion Board on the University's intranet has allowed for a space for people to share articles, podcasts, TEDX talks, and events to enable others to learn more about this important topic.
  • A range of Black History Month events and resources are available annually.
  • The University has fully funded two places on Advance HE's Diversifying Leadership programme in 2021/22 and 2022/23. This programme is designed to support early-career academics and professional services staff from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who are about to take their first steps into a leadership role. It explores themes of power and influence, demystifying leadership, cultural identity, and cultural capital, increasing your visibility and authentic leadership, and features leadership stories from high-profile HE leaders.
  • There have been a number of changes to the Recruitment and Selection process. The Competency Based Interview Question Bank has been updated to include over 20 equality and diversity focussed questions that interview panels can choose from or adapt to really ensure that the University is appointing new staff committed to the promotion of diversity and equality and the elimination of discrimination in all its forms. The selection panel recommendation form encourages the interview panel to discuss and reflect on their own Unconscious Biases and Positive Action and consider all aspects of Equality and Diversity in reaching a decision on appointment. Equality and Diversity is now a key focus of Recruitment and Selection training (which all panel members must undertake). Positive Action is a key focus for the University and this was demonstrated in the way the recent vacancies for senior role Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor Student Experience roles were advertised, with targeted recruitment across targeted ethnicity, LGBT, disability, gender equality, and generic diversity recruitment sites.
  • The University runs an annual and very successful, large-scale Diversity Festival with ​a range of events, high-profile speakers, workshops, training, and much more. In March 2021, the 16th annual Festival, the theme of the Festival was primarily race focussed and built upon events in previous years, and upon the work of the Race Equality Challenge Group to upskill staff and students, allowing for discussion and story-sharing and to address actions in the action plan.  Subsequent years have included a range of race focussed events. 
  • A REACH (Race Equality and Cultural Heritage) Staff Network. The group provides a safe space for REACH staff to seek peer support, share advice, and celebrate their cultures. You can find out more about the REACH Network here. The REACH Network hosted its first REACH Development Conference in November 2022 to great success. This event was well-attended, engaged, and saw a variety of inspiring speakers who discussed the barriers that people of colour face in their careers.
  • The University’s proactive Outreach Team embarked on a team development programme to increase and broaden their knowledge of Equality and Diversity matters. The development aims to enable the team to recognise implicit and explicit discrimination in themselves and others, and be confident to challenge; as well as enabling the team to identify, implement and evaluate strategies that tackle discrimination both personally and professionally.

The University’s Race Equality work continues to progress and develop.  If you would like to ask any questions or discuss any of this information further, please contact equality@chester.ac.uk