Pilot assessment procedure to address conscious and unconscious bias | University of Oxford
Magnolia blossom and a student sitting on a bench
Magnolia blossom outside the Department of Education
(Image credit: Jasmine Reimer / Graduate Photography Competition)

Pilot assessment procedure to address conscious and unconscious bias

Pilot on the assessment procedure of graduate applications to address conscious and unconscious bias for entry in the 2021-22 academic year. The information below applies to the following courses:

Motivation

It is our firm view that science is best done by a diverse inclusive team, in which all members are valued, and in a supportive and positive research culture. Our philosophy is that embracing and supporting diversity in all forms will lead to a collaborative research culture in which science and scientists can flourish.

Inspired by discussions with our students, our scientific communities, and ongoing global events, we are running a pilot with a limited number of courses to test actions aimed at minimising conscious and unconscious bias in our admissions procedure for graduate students. These actions are informed by the Wellcome Trust report on research culture and ongoing efforts by UKRI in equality, diversity, and inclusion. These actions have evolved from previous initiatives, and will continue to evolve as we learn and develop more effective ways to oppose actively discrimination of all forms.

What actions are we taking?

We will be publishing our assessment criteria for shortlisting for interview. Information will be provided here as soon as it is available.

We will take into consideration socio-economic data in the assessment of applications.

This applies to the following courses:

Assessment of offer holders for college places

The changes apply to the departmental assessment procedure only. The college selection procedure has not been amended, and will be undertaken in the same way as for any other courses within the University.

Collection of socio-economic data

The University currently collects a range of socio-economic data from candidates who apply for graduate study. This information is used to understand the demographics of those applying and of candidates who are offered places, but it is not available to assessors. We would like to use these data to contextualise our shortlisting processes. By understanding your socio-economic background, we can better understand the challenges that you have had in your education to date.

Instructions for submitting your CV

When you submit your CV, could you please add the following sentence at the end of your document: I give/don’t give [as relevant] permission to the academic assessors for the course to access the socio-economic data I have provided in the University’s application form.

If you give permission, only the information on socio-economic background will be disclosed; any other information you have provided under the ‘Equality, Diversity and Access’ section of the application form (eg ethnicity) will not be disclosed to the assessors.

Pilot on the assessment procedure of graduate applications to address conscious and unconscious bias for entry in the 2021-22 academic year. The information below applies to the following courses:

Motivation

It is our firm view that science is best done by a diverse inclusive team, in which all members are valued, and in a supportive and positive research culture. Our philosophy is that embracing and supporting diversity in all forms will lead to a collaborative research culture in which science and scientists can flourish.

Inspired by discussions with our students, our scientific communities, and ongoing global events, we are running a pilot with a limited number of courses to test actions aimed at minimising conscious and unconscious bias in our admissions procedure for graduate students.  These actions are informed by the Wellcome Trust report on research culture and ongoing efforts by UKRI in equality, diversity, and inclusion. These actions have evolved from previous initiatives, and will continue to evolve as we learn and develop more effective ways to oppose actively discrimination of all forms.

What actions are we taking?

We will be anonymising applications, using a standard CV format, and taking into consideration socio-economic data in the assessment of applications for the following graduate programmes:

Assessment of offer holders for college places

The changes apply to the departmental assessment procedure only. The college selection procedure has not been amended, and will be undertaken in the same way as for any other courses within the University.

What do these things mean and why are we taking these actions?

Anonymisation of applications

This means that all references to your name and your gender pronouns (she/he/they/ze) will be removed in anything used by the academic assessors to assess your application during the shortlisting procedure, including your references. The people assessing your application will, therefore, have no idea of your cultural background, ethnicity, gender, or skin colour.

The reason for using anonymised applications is because research has shown that information inferred from your name can lead to bias in the shortlisting process.

Use of a standard CV format

We will ask you to fill out an online form that requests certain information that you will likely have included on your CV. This form will request the same information from all applicants, and will provide this information to the assessors in an identical format. This allows us to ensure that we are comparing all applicants fairly, as we will ensure that we have the information that we require from everyone, rather than leaving it to chance that this is included on your CV. Our assessors will see this information in the same format, meaning that they will be able to compare this information more easily, and not be influenced by differences in CV formatting. The aim of this process is to allow us to focus on the key objective pieces of information that will help us to assess your academic merit, potential, and suitability in the shortlisting procedure.

A link to this separate online CV form can be found in the ‘How to apply’ tab of the course page under ‘CV/résumé’.

Information from the main University’s application form that is made available to the academic assessors and from this formatted CV will also be anonymised.

Collection of socio-economic data

The University currently collects a range of socio-economic data from candidates who apply for graduate study. This information is used to understand the demographics of those applying and of candidates who are offered places, but it is not available to assessors. We would like to use these data to contextualise our shortlisting processes. By understanding your socio-economic background, we can better understand the challenges that you have had in your education to date.

When you submit your formatted CV, you will be asked for permission to disclose the socio-economic information that you have provided in the University’s application form to the academic assessors. Only the information on socio-economic background will be disclosed; any other information you have provided under the ‘Equality, Diversity and Access’ section of the application form (eg ethnicity) will not be disclosed to the assessors.

Was this page useful?*