De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has become the first higher education institution (HEI) in the UK to have an award for race equality renewed.
DMU is one of only eight original holders of the award - and the only HEI - to have so far successfully applied for a renewal of the prestigious bronze Race Equality Charter award.
Launched in 2015, the award was created to tackle inequality in higher education and to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, academics and professional staff in the UK’s universities.
To receive a renewal of the award, institutions have to demonstrate determination and progress made to advance racial equality and remove institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of this.
DMU’s Head of Equality and Diversity, Chris Hall said: "This award recognised the hard work and investments we have made improve the representation, experiences and outcomes for all our staff and students.
“Examples such as Developing Diversity programme, and Freedom to Achieve which is about improving BAME student attainment is having an impact, which this is acknowledged by our award being renewed.”
The award is presented by the Advance HE (formerly Equality Challenge Unit), a charity which is funded by and provides guidance for the higher education sector.
There are currently 44 Race Equality Charter members of which 10 are bronze award holders, the highest level to have been conferred so far.
The announcement of the award came on the same day as the university’s annual DMUfreedom conference – a programme of speakers and workshops looking at diversity and inclusion.
Talks were given by award winning journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed and Stonewall co-founder Simon Fanshawe.
Samira, who presents BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and Newswatch, and who has written for The Guardian and The Independent among many other titles, gave a talk centred around presentations of race and diversity in the media.
She said: “To me it just makes perfect sense that students from all backgrounds should feel that the university treats them all equally and that they feel comfortable and respected and can all learn to achieve their potential - and that was my experience at university.
“It seems that there’s nothing to argue with then, and if there are students who don’t feel comfortable, the university needs to ask why and have the honesty to challenge where problems exist and not smooth it over or blame the person who says I don’t feel comfortable.
“But at the heart of it, is people needing to listen to each other and everyone listening to all sides.“
Posted on Thursday 24th May 2018