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Director’s and Dean’s Race Equity Pledges 2020 – 2021

27 May 2021

Professional Services Directors have now joined Deans in making public pledges to promote race equity.

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These pledges, which are now in their third year, may be found here

Image of Marcia Jacks
Image of Ijeoma Uchegbu

Earlier this year Marcia Jacks (UCL Institute of Women’s Health), Sukhi Bath (UCL Student and Registry Services), Pui Sum Wong (UCL Equity Diversity and Inclusion - EDI) and I embarked on our annual Faculty Roadshow. Over 10 weeks in the autumn of 2020 (delayed from the spring of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic), we visited all 11 UCL Faculties and all 6 UCL Professional Services Departments. The visits to all Professional Services Departments were a first this academic year. During these visits we met the various leadership teams and shared local race equity data in order to spur your managers into action. We pointed out the consequences of the colossal loss of potential associated with the persistent racial inequity within our institution. These visits became especially relevant during the traumatising summer, in which we experienced the video recording of the murder of George Floyd, major protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and came to the realisation that the Covid-19 pandemic was claiming victims disproportionately from Black and Asian communities, as well as exposing the structural inequality embedded within the fabric of our country.

Trends in the ethnic minority staff profile at UCL

Figure 1: Trends in the ethnic minority staff profile at UCL (top panels) and the reduction of the ethnic awarding gap within 3 selected UCL faculties (bottom panel)

Your Deans and Directors have responded magnificently to our visits by making the most meaningful pledges that UCL managers have ever made on race equity. There are pledges on automatically short-listing candidates who meet the essential criteria and are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds (UCL Finance and Business Affairs and UCL The Bartlett), pledges that will prioritise staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds for leadership training (UCL Student and Registry Services and UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences) and pledges that commit to providing scholarships for students from Black and Asian communities (UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences and UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences). We feel that once these pledges are delivered, we will be well on our way to transforming UCL. 

Despite the pandemic interruption, an estimated 60% of the Dean’s pledges made in 2019/2020 were delivered across our faculties. Some faculties recorded stellar achievements in 2019/ 2020, however. For example at The Bartlett, 100% of the pledges made in 2019/2020 were delivered, despite the upheaval forced on our institution by the viral pandemic. This is an astounding achievement.  Kamna Patel, Vice Dean EDI, The Bartlett says, “we are proud in the Bartlett at what we have achieved and really pleased that we had full leadership support in delivering these pledges, with specific away days dedicated to discussing race equity issues and this year our ambitious and stretching 2020/21 pledges were co-created across our community of staff and students via dialogues on race, racism and the built environment.” 

Some very impactful pledges were delivered by other Deans, such as the commitment to specific actions to reduce race inequity in each department and institute in the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences as well as the provision of funding for equity, diversity and inclusion activities across the faculty. Alexandra Olaya-Castro, Vice Dean EDI, Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences says, “we were pleased to see each department in the Faculty committing to a series of race equity actions in 2020/2021 and one of our pledges will see us maintaining continuous dialog among staff and students through our MAPS Lunch Hour series on tackling racial inequity in higher education and STEM.”

There is still much work to do to achieve real race equity at UCL. However I am pleased to say that these Dean’s Pledges and other activities around UCL are finally beginning to make a difference, as illustrated from the data in the Figure above. The percentage of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff at the senior grades (7-10) continues to rise year on year. However, what is even more pleasing to see is that 3 out of 11 faculties have reduced their ethnic Awarding Gap consistently, year on year, over a three-year period. The Awarding Gap is the difference in the percentage of UK domiciled Black, Asian or minority ethnic students achieving a first class or second class upper degree when compared to White students. Additionally, in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, the final degree mark revealed that there had been no ethnic Awarding Gap over the past two years. However, in certain faculties there is still a significant Black Awarding Gap and in some cases this was as high as 26% in 2019. Obviously this is totally unacceptable and indicates that there is much to be done if we are to hit the target laid down by the Office for Students; which is aiming for an eradication of the Black Awarding Gap by 2024/25 [1].

In summary, we are making progress but there is still much more that we need to do to create an environment where UCL harnesses the full potential of all of its many talented staff and students graduate with the degree that they deserve. Please do have a look at the Dean’s and Director’s pledges and do let us know if you have any ideas on how we may further improve the experience of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff at UCL.  Finally do write and tell us what you intend to do to reduce race inequity at UCL.

Ijeoma F. Uchegbu, Provost’s Envoy for Race Equality, Marcia Jacks, Co-chair of the Race Equality Steering Group

1. OfficeforStudents. Official statistic: Key performance measure 4 - Gap in degree outcomes (1sts or 2:1s) between white students and black students. https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/about/measures-of-our-success/participation-performance-measures/gap-in-degree-outcomes-1sts-or-21s-between-white-students-and-black-students/ 2020.