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Deans pledge to further race equality at UCL

12 July 2018

Leadership roles, widening participation and inclusive advocacy are among commitments

UCL main quad

UCL's most senior people managers have come up with plans to tackle race inequality at the university. 

Their pledges come as the result of individual meetings with members of the Provost's Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team, where they were presented with faculty specific data and a race equality toolkit:

 

The team members were Ijeoma Uchegbu, Chair in Pharmaceutical Nanoscience, PVP Africa and The Middle East, Provost’s Envoy for Race Equality, Marcia Jacks, Co-Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group, Paulette Williams, Head of Student Success Projects

What was the motivation?

Professor Uchegbu said,  "We all know the story: Applicants from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, are less likely to be appointed when compared to White applicants and staff from BME backgrounds are promoted at a slower rate to White staff.

Furthermore BME staff are more likely to be involved in disciplinary procedures when compared to White staff. The data also shows that UK BME students are less likely to get a good degree when compared to UK White students and that both BME staff and students express less satisfaction in response to survey questions. Is UCL institutionally racist? The data is hard to ignore. Are individuals at UCL largely racist? This is patently not the case. To quote Professor Ivan Parkin, Dean of the

Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, “I simply believe that everyone should have a chance to achieve their full potential.” We agree with Parkin, but how do we get to such a place where race is no longer a barrier to progress at UCL? The

Racematters@UCL network often grapple with this question. There is no single answer. The collective will of the institution and its constitutive parts have to be marshalled to the cause; with guts and determination at the ready. The societal backdrop doesn’t help with openly racist groups advocating a racist agenda and mainstream political parties leaning eagerly in their direction. To counter the external, we think that we need a bold and transformative vision to achieve race equality at our institution and that is what we think we currently have. What does it take to make an institute more diverse?

Why is diversity important?

The case for ethnic diversity in organisations is strong:

 

and papers authored by international teams receive more citations – a citation premium, as it were (The fourth age of research). Diversity is a positive contributor to organisational outcomes. That much is clear.

Race equality is also not just a matter for BME communities, it is a matter for us all. Legislation and organisational diversity drivers are important but one further UCL specific driver is our student body. 40% of our students are from a BME background. These high tariff students are tomorrow’s leaders and they are paying us to equip them to change the world. BME students graduating with an inferior degree to their White peers will not add value or support ambition. Our staff should be able to address the more subtle needs of our student body.

What is UCL doing?

The Provost and President of UCL, Professor Michael Arthur initiated the journey in 2014, made a recent bold and public commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and demonstrated that the vision to create an institution that promotes race equality comes from the very top of the institution. One of the key facets of the UCL 2034 Strategy is to deliver on equality and diversity. There is also the small matter of UK legislation which mandates public organisations to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

There is good news. The desire to embed equalities within UCL’s very fabric is in post and this is what led to UCL’s application for the Race Equality Charter in 2014. The application resulted in the award of the Bronze Race Equality Charter to UCL in 2015. We have taken the first steps on our way to a change, in that at least we are speaking openly about race equality to each other. We are not there yet though and our Race Equality Charter Action Plan is long, if not winding. There is still much to be done. After our meetings with UCL’s deans, a number of pledges were made and we thought we would share them with you so you have an idea of the work that is going on around UCL."

So what have your deans pledged to do?

Arts and Humanities

1. Appoint a senior academic with responsibility for race and equality

2. In collaboration with the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences and the Office of the Vice Provost Education, exploring the creation of a Centre for the Study of Race and Racism; with the Centre to be housed in the Institute of Advanced Studies.

The Bartlett

1. Appointed a Vice Dean Equality, Diversity (Dr Kamna Patel) and Inclusion with a portfolio that covers, race, gender and other protected categories (the first in UCL).

2. Fully fund a percentage of the Bartlett’s Students as a means of addressing the widening participation issue with the main scheme to start in 2020. A significant proportion of these students will be from BME families.

3. Work through the Bartlett’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.

4. Address the BME attainment gap is a priority.

5. Trial the Fair Recruitment Specialist scheme.

6. Implement the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme.

Brain Sciences

1. The Deans of the School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS) Faculties are contributing funding via The Wellcome Trust to develop the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme within SLMS

2. A Faculty BME Attainment Lead has been appointed.

3. To consider utilising Fair Recruitment Specialists

Engineering

1. Implement measures to address racial inequalities in student attainment by asking a colleague to help champion this by drawing best practice from our leading departments and sharing these examples broadly. This is a focus of the next Away day for the leadership team.

2. A Faculty BME Attainment Lead has been appointed.

Institute of Education

1. A senior position with a portfolio that covers race equality has been created.

2. Participate in UCL’s widening participation initiatives.

3. A Faculty BME Attainment Lead has been appointed.

4. Actively engage with the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme.

5. Undertake a Focus Group on Race and Ethnicity and develop a robust action plan as part of the Athena Swan application.

6. Continue the current practice of ensuring a BME member is on our recruitment panel, wherever possible, including drawing on Fair Recruitment Specialists.

Laws

1. Participate in UCL’s Widening Participation programme.

2. A Faculty BME Attainment Lead has been appointed.

Life Sciences

1. The Deans of the School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS) Faculties are contributing funding via The Wellcome Trust to develop the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme within SLMS.

2. A Faculty BME Attainment Faculty Lead has been appointed.

Maths and Physical Sciences

1. Appoint an Equalities and Diversity Champion as part of the leadership team

2. Trial the Fair Recruitment Specialist scheme.

3. Implement the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme.

4. A Faculty BME Attainment Lead has been appointed.

Medical Sciences

1. The Deans of the School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS) Faculties are contributing funding via The Wellcome Trust to develop the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme within SLMS.

2. Appoint a Vice Dean Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

3. Create an Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

4. A BME Attainment Faculty Lead has been appointed.

Population Health Sciences

1. The Deans of the School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS) Faculties are contributing funding via The Wellcome Trust to develop the Inclusive Advocacy Scheme within SLMS.

2. Trial Fair Recruitment Specialists from autumn 2018 with an absolute recommendation of BME representation on recruitment panels as far as possible.

3. Revise governance of the Faculty EDI committee to ensure a direct link to the Faculty Executive Committee.

Social and Historical Sciences

1. In collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Office of the Vice Provost Education, exploring the creation of a Centre for the Study of Race and Racism; with the Centre to be housed in the Institute of Advanced Studies.

2. A BME Attainment Faculty Lead has been appointed

How you can get involved

So you have read these pledges. Comment here with your thoughts, ideas for activities, suggestions and views. Alternatively, you can ">email us. We will invite proponents of the most exciting ideas to share these with the Provost’s Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team and see if we can implement some of them.

Think UCL. Think race equality.

Ijeoma Uchegbu, Chair in Pharmaceutical Nanoscience, PVP Africa and the Middle East, Provost’s Envoy for Race Equality

Marcia Jacks, Co-Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group

Paulette Williams, Head of Student Success Projects