Oxford University Images / Greg Smolonski
All students at the University of Oxford are being asked to share their views on proposals to improve race equality at the institution.
The Race Equality Task Force is now consulting on a set of proposed measures for tackling racial equity across the University.
Launched in November 2020 and reporting to Council, the Task Force aims to build on the wider range of existing activities that already take place across the collegiate University, accelerating change across Oxford.
The Task Force ran a programme of engagement activities with students and other stakeholders in the 2020/21 academic year – including open events, interviews, focus groups and research. Its findings were synthesised into a report presented to University Council in September 2021.
The Task Force found that there has been a significant focus at the University on race equality in recent years, with visible and measurable change in some areas, such as undergraduate access. However, in other areas, such as diversity of academic staff, internal and external feedback highlighted that progress has been far too slow, and that further interventions are needed.
In light of this, the Task Force proposes a wide range of actions aimed at building on existing progress and focussing on accelerating change in particular areas. They aim to address the under-representation at all levels at the University of those from Black and Minority Ethnic groups, and transform the experience of students.
The measures include enabling actions to be enacted immediately to build the foundation for the future: creating a full-time senior equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) leadership role; working with the colleges to establish a joint University-college committee focused on EDI matters; and launching a communications strategy focused on anti-racism.
The Task Force has also outlined a number of detailed proposals grouped into different areas, including:
- Student Diversity and Experience: increasing the diversity of students at graduate level; developing central funding to support curriculum diversification; and improving social and wellbeing facilities for students of colour
- Dealing with Racial Harassment: measures to create a harassment-free culture, with increased capacity for reporting and responding to instances of harassment
- Research and Impact: embedding inclusive research practices across the University, improved co-ordination of race-related research; and making the case for roles with a focus on a broad spectrum of race-related research
- Culture and Community: strengthening training and awareness activities; supporting Black and Minority Ethnic students networks; and increasing engagement with the local community and alumni
- Responsibility and Accountability: ensuring EDI is firmly embedded in the University’s governance structures at all levels
- Communications and engagement: increasing the profile of race-related issues; with a University-wide communication campaign and increased prominence of diversity content.
All students can take part in the consultation via the Race Equality Task Force website. Submissions are anonymous and confidential and the deadline for responding is 5pm on Friday 1 December.
The Task Force will consider the response to the consultation and report back on it in Hilary term. Based on this input, it will develop a final University-wide strategy and funded business plan for approval by Council at the end of the 2021/22 academic year. Its outputs will also feed into the University’s next Race Equality Charter submission in 2022.
The consultation is also open to staff of the University.