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Task Force launched to address racial inequality at Oxford

A new Task Force launches this month to address racial inequality at all levels at Oxford.

With a membership from across the collegiate University, it will propose a University-wide strategy to address under-representation and both conscious and unconscious discrimination. There will be an opportunity for staff and students to share and discuss their experiences, and to shape the proposals for addressing challenges.

Reporting to Council, it will build on the wider range of existing activities that already take place across the collegiate University, accelerating representation across the University.

The Task Force was announced in the Vice-Chancellor’s Oration in October 2020, where Professor Louise Richardson spoke of a new 'University wide task force convene to engage, to listen, to share ideas and together to make recommendations for ways that we can address the under-representation of racial minorities at all levels – especially the most senior levels -within the university.'

The group will be active throughout the 2021/22 academic year, with a programme of engagement with staff, students and other stakeholders during Michaelmas and Hilary terms - through workshops and forum events. It will also map existing activities, identify gaps and weakness, and develop a framework into which local activities can fit and inform.

The Task Force will then develop a programme of actions with a supporting business case to present to Council at is strategy day in September 2021. These outputs will feed into the University’s next Race Equality Charter submission in 2022.

Dr Rebecca Surender, the University Advocate for Equality and Diversity, has published an article to coincide with the launch of the Task Force, outlining the substantive progress has already been made across the collegiate University on this matter. It highlights Oxford’s commitment to equality and diversity, and outlines the efforts being made to translate this into practical action.

Professor Surender is due to stand down as Advocate in Trinity Term 2021, and the Task Force will be asked to consider the structures and arrangements for senior level sponsorship and support going forward.

The Task Force will be co-chaired by Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, and Professor Anne Trefethen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, People and GLAM.

Professor Anne Trefethen said: 'Oxford University is unequivocal in its opposition to racism and discrimination in all its forms. We are committed to addressing systemic racism wherever it may be found, including within our own community. The creation of the Task Force builds on our substantive progress in this area, led by Dr Rebecca Surender as the University Advocate for Equality and Diversity. It also reflects the fact that we need to do more and work together. It will help us to harness our existing efforts and identify ways in which we can accelerate those actions to promote diversity and remove discrimination.'

Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, said: 'The collegiate University already carries out a wide range of activities to tackle racism, and our efforts in this area have intensified in recent months, given the increased focus on these issues. While we have made progress on representation at undergraduate level, there is still more that needs to be done to diversify our student body, especially at postgraduate level. Additionally, I hope that the Task Force will make significant recommendations to improve the quality of the experience of students while they are at Oxford.'

Information about the Task Force is now available on the Equality and Diversity Unit website, and further details will be published in the weeks ahead.

If you have any queries at this stage, please contact: [email protected]