St Mary’s is committed to advancing racial equality across our institution for all staff and students.
This commitment is embedded in our equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) agenda as is outlined in our People Strategy, and is underpinned by our mission and purpose as an inclusive Catholic university.
To help drive forward our efforts to improve racial equality at St Mary’s, we are a proud member of Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter. The charter serves as a helpful framework as we seek to interrogate and improve existing structures, policies, and practices that may prohibit St Mary’s from achieving racial equality for our staff and students. As part of joining the Charter, the Vice-Chancellor has released a letter in which he has committed to five guiding principles which will underpin our efforts to improve our policies, practices, and culture, through structured action planning.
The university has assembled a Self-Assessment team (SAT), who are leading our efforts to address racial inequality at St Mary’s. The SAT formation process was informed and supported by our BAME & Allies' Staff Network and BAME Student Network, who have been key collaborators in our REC process. The SAT is co-chaired by Prof Symeon Dagkas (Deputy Provost), and Melina Healy (Learning Development Lecturer, SAHPS and Chair of the BAME Student Network). The SAT membership is comprised of staff and students from across the institution, and is comprised of a majority of individuals from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, recognising that those with lived experience of racial inequality must be central in driving the University’s REC efforts. Check out our video to learn more about the REC and why it’s important to students at St Mary’s.
Learn about SAT Activities, Events, and Resources
As part of our first REC Bronze Award Submission, we were required to run a staff and student-wide survey to gain a full picture of individuals’ lived experiences and the state of race equality at St Mary’s. We were delighted to receive a strong response rate from both staff and students, and will be donating £621 to the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation (£1 per each entry). We have now analysed the survey data and have shared the Executive Summary report with our community.
For more information regarding St Mary’s REC efforts, or to discuss ways to get involved, please reach out to our EDI Team at EDI.Team@stmarys.ac.uk.
About the Race Equality Charter
The Race Equality Charter (REC) is a framework provided by Advance HE through which institutions work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and students.
Our REC Self-Assessment Team (SAT) has been exceptionally hard at work drafting a multi-year SMART Action Plan – driven from all of the quantitative and qualitative (survey and focus group) data we have collected thus far. We have now collated draft actions from our workstream groups, and are at work adding SMART aspects (i.e. timescales, measurements, etc.) covering professional and support staff, academic staff, student progression and rewarding, and diversity of the curriculum.
About our REC Self-Assessment Team
The St Mary’s REC Self-Assessment Team (SAT) is comprised of staff and students from across the institution who have come together to help drive forward meaningful change in racial equality for our community. The SAT will address the charter’s five guiding principles as they work to complete St Mary’s first application for a Race Equality Charter Bronze award.
The REC SAT have several aims.
- To drive forward the REC self-assessment process at St Mary’s, in accordance with the Race Equality Charter and its key principles. This includes collecting and analysing wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative data on racial equality and intersectionality across the university, as well as demonstrating the impact of previous/ongoing racial equality activity.
- To act as ‘champions’ for the REC process and racial equality throughout the university, raising awareness, inspiring engagement of staff and students, attending events, and encouraging active participation in the principles of the REC.
- To develop, oversee, and monitor the progress of the university’s REC Action Plan 2023-2025, and help ensure accountability for individual action items, both within their individual departments and in broader institutional activities.
- To review the Terms of Reference (including SAT membership) on an annual basis to ensure the implementation of the action plan is fit for purpose.
- To oversee future REC award and renewal submissions from the university.
The membership of the REC SAT will be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure the group reflects a diverse cross-section of individuals and experiences, as is outlined by the Charter. Co-chairs of the REC SAT will work to ensure any changes in membership retain >50% composition of members from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds in order to centre those with lived experience of racism and racial inequality.
The REC SAT co-chairs also work closely with the chairs of the BAME & Allies' Staff Network and BAME Student Network on an ongoing basis to ensure individuals from both groups have meaningful representation and participation in SAT membership.
In addition to members from St Mary’s staff and student populations, the REC SAT includes members external to the University who will serve as ‘critical friends’ throughout the self-assessment process. These external individuals will include alumni and colleagues in the sector with experience of advancing racial equality in higher education institutions (HEIs).
The REC SAT reports to the University Executive Committee (UEC).
Race Equality Charter guiding 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.