Envisioning a Gold Standard: Understanding Higher Education Institutions’ outlook for race equality policies, practices & future initiatives
The subject of this proposal is race, racism, and racial equality within UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). While HEI policies and practices have endured a tumultuous relationship with the issue of race since the post-war immigration and assimilation era, the scholarship embodying resistance has been accretive over time to nurture different ideas of racial equality.
For instance, in the early 2000’s, Critical Race Theory (CRT) made its way across the Atlantic, bringing the ideology of ‘white supremacy’ into focus (Gillborn, 2005). This was followed by a resurgence in the proposals for equality through ‘national identity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ during the late period of New Labour, and more recently, by grassroots calls for ‘decolonisation’ of the academy.
Meanwhile, the changing UK policy landscape over the last decade has been significantly more febrile in its search for universal metrics for racial inequalities, with the recent report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (2021) triggering an acrimonious response from scholars and activists alike, through its tacit disavowal of institutional racism.
Although there has been significant progress in developing balanced institutional frameworks to identify and address barriers to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and students, such as BERA’s Race Equality Policy and Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter (REC), there remains a challenge of agreeing on a gold standard for tackling racism and other forms of discrimination.
Aims and Objectives of this Research:
This project has two main aims: (i) To investigate how HEIs’ stance on tackling racial disparities for students and staff is influenced by scholarship and the UK policy landscape; and (ii) To understand the possibilities for, and limitations within, leveraging metrics, statistical evidence, narratives and testimonies of racism and racial inequalities to account for individuals’ multiple attributes, identities, and values.
These aims are supported by the following objectives:
1. To analyse the themes of race, racism, and racial equality present in commissioned reports, and how these correspond with themes within the ‘action plans’ of those HEIs which have been granted Advance HE’s REC award.
2. To determine how the themes from above, as well as academic research on race, racism, inequalities, and social and political power, are or might be assessed and assimilated by HEIs governing plans for handling racial disparities.
3. To evaluate the quantitative metrics and statistical presentations of racial disparity used by HEIs, and how these might be extended to highlight patterns of discrimination when considering individuals’ multiple characteristics beyond race, such as gender or disability.
4. To develop a conceptual map for the pathways to equality for HEI staff who have lived experiences of being marginalised along multiple ‘intersectional’ dimensions, inclusive of racial discrimination.
The intended short-term outcome of this project is to substantiate race equality frameworks in the higher education space against criticisms that these frameworks deny academic freedoms for those who disagree with them (Turner & Somerville, Telegraph 2021).
The potential long-term impact would be to formalise a roadmap for inclusivity, accommodating staff and students’ complete identities, including race.
The theoretical frameworks underlying the methods and instruments in this project are Critical Race Theory (Delgado, 2012; Gillborn, 2008) and Intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989). These are well-known in the race and education space and provide the necessary analytical scope and depth to contextualise approaches to racial justice and overlapping areas of marginalisation.
Calling all EDI representatives from Universities across the UK
For this research project one EDI officer/lead per university that is already admitted into the Race Equality Charter (REC) is invited to be involved. There are currently 80 HEIs which have successfully achieved recognition into the Race Equality Charter (Advance HE, 2021). This project is supported in-kind by Advance HE Race Equality Charter Head Dr Arun Verma. The overall project aims to help realise the ambitions of addressing intersectionality across HEIs is a common goal towards envisioning the 'gold' standard of the REC.
Want to participate?
Participation involves the EDI representative completing one online survey (10 mins). For participating you will be invited to attend an exclusive webinar (for free) on data visualisation and storyboarding run by a data analyst which can teach you how to engage with data representation. There is also scope to invite black and minority colleagues from different institutions to participate in focus group activities (compensation for time is budgeted).
In 2021, British Educational Research in Education (BERA) funded over £40,000 in research, of which Dr Jogie's project is one of five research recipients, under the Small Grants call on the theme of 'Race and Education'.