Race Equality Charter

Improving the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students within higher education is integral to the University of Plymouth.

Research from across the sector shows us that higher education is not working for everyone and this manifests in lower attainment and progression rates for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME*) students and poor representation of BAME staff in senior roles. We are committed to changing that as a core part of our EDI Plan and our Access and Participation Plan and we are using Advance HE's Race Equality Charter as our framework for change. All areas of the University are involved in not only addressing inequalities when we find them but also in helping us to become anti-racist as an institution in everything we do.
*we recognise the problematic nature of terms such as 'BAME' and only use it here in line with other organisations in the sector. Find out more about our use of terminology. 

About the Race Equality Charter

Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter (REC) provides a framework through which universities work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students. The submission involves a large-scale research project across the institution using data from staff and student surveys, focus groups and quantitative data to help identify areas we can improve on. We will create actions to address any issues we find and these will be added to an ambitious five-year action plan. Through the framework, Universities develop initiatives and solutions for action, and can apply for a Bronze or Silver Race Equality Charter award, depending on their level of progress.
The University is applying for a Bronze Race Equality Charter award and is on track to submit an application in February 2023. Working toward this submission is the University's REC Self-Assessment Team (SAT) which is chaired by Dr Mahrukh Mirza and Laura Avery.
As well as the REC, the University is undertaking a wide range of actions to address racism in Higher Education.

Race Equality Charter principles

 The Race Equality Charter is underpinned by five fundamental guiding principles.
  • Racial inequalities are a significant issue within higher education. Racial inequalities are not necessarily overt, isolated incidents. Racism is an everyday facet of UK society and racial inequalities manifest themselves in everyday situations, processes and behaviours.
  • UK higher education cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population and until individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.
  • In developing solutions to racial inequalities, it is important that they are aimed at achieving long-term institutional culture change, avoiding a deficit model where solutions are aimed at changing the individual.
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group. People from different ethnic backgrounds have different experiences of and outcomes from/within higher education, and that complexity needs to be considered in analysing data and developing actions.
  • All individuals have multiple identities, and the intersection of those different identities should be considered wherever possible.
By joining Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter, institutions are committing to following these principles in how they approach race equality and address their institutional culture. Once an institution has signed up to the Race Equality Charter by sending in their letter of commitment, they will need to submit their application within five years.

Our self-assessment team

We know that addressing racial inequalities in the higher education sector is not an easy task, or something that can be resolved overnight. That is why we have a self-assessment team (SAT) of leaders and experts from across the University of Plymouth helping us on our journey. As well as staff experts, we are privileged to have students join our group to ensure that student voice is integral to our submission to the Race Equality Charter. 
Our SAT is led by Dr Mahrukh Mirza and Laura Avery and the SAT meets every eight weeks. We also have an expert group of staff, students and academics from across the University who provide expert insight and opinion to the SAT. 

Our journey so far

January 2021 - the University officially becomes a member of the Race Equality Charter and will submit in 2023
February 2021 - our SAT designed an all staff and student survey on race equality at the University of Plymouth
May 2021 - race equality survey directly emailed to all University staff and students
September 2021 - initial results of the survey are shared with REC chairs, staff and student data made available to SAT for analysis
December 2021 - Dr Mahrukh Mirza takes over as REC SAT Chair
February 2022 - SAT begins work on submission for a REC Bronze Award
"It is our responsibility to acknowledge the privilege that white people hold in society and take notice of the racism that is present within the systems and institutions that surround us in daily life. It is important to extend our help and understand the inequalities. Working closely with the University of Plymouth and community partners, we will amplify the voices of our black student representatives. We pledge to listen to our black students about the problems they face and act towards the changes they want to see."
University of Plymouth Students Union
Statement on race equality and Black Lives Matter
<p>Man sitting outside the Students Union</p>

Stay up to date

The best way to stay up to date with our progress toward a Bronze Race Equality Charter award is to follow the University's equality Twitter account for all the latest updates on the University's equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work including updates on the Race Equality Charter. You can also bookmark this page and visit regularly as it will continue to be updated as we work toward an award.
If you work or study at the University of Plymouth you can also visit the EDI SharePoint pages for more information plus training and resources to help you become anti-racist in your work and whilst you're there you can sign up for the bi-weekly EDI News Digest. 
We currently do not need any more SAT members, however we are always looking for staff and students who are passionate about tackling racial inequalities and racism to join our REC Expert Group. If you think this is something that would interest you then email the EDI team on equality@plymouth.ac.uk.

Learn more