Eight universities have been named as the first recipients of a new higher education racial equality charter mark.
Organised by the Equality Challenge Unit, which runs the Athena SWAN initiative, the Race Equality Charter is awarded to institutions in recognition of excellence in advancing racial equality in higher education.
It aims to “inspire a strategic approach to making cultural and systemic changes that will make a real difference to minority ethnic staff and students”, covering issues including improving attainment and continuation rates among ethnic minority students, diversity of curriculum and support for academic and support staff from minority ethnic groups.
Out of 21 institutions that participated in the scheme’s inaugural year, eight were successful in receiving an award at bronze level.
They are De Montfort University, King’s College London, Kingston University, Staffordshire University, the University of Hertfordshire, University College London (incorporating the UCL Institute of Education, which merged with UCL in November), the University of Manchester, and Royal Holloway, University of London.
The awards were made at the end of the charter’s year-long pilot. A full evaluation of the charter, including feedback from participating institutions, will be undertaken prior to its roll-out across the sector from 2015-16.
“It is an incredibly exciting initiative and it has been fascinating to see how universities have interacted with it over the course of the trial,” said Sarah Dickinson, head of equality charters at the ECU.
“I’d like to personally congratulate those institutions that have received an award in this round. They have all worked extremely hard and I’m delighted that they are now able to celebrate the fruits of their efforts”.
Ms Dickinson also thanked the institutions that had applied unsuccessfully for the award, saying the success rate was “lower than usual” for equality charter marks.
“Achieving a charter award in its first year is extremely difficult due to the number of processes and practices that need to be implemented from scratch, so a lower than usual success rate was always to be expected,” she said.
“We hope these universities feel the process was beneficial to them, and that the practices and initiatives they have introduced as part of the process help them to build on their work in this area.”