Equality and diversity
1.1 The diversity of DMU’s students make it imperative for DMU to consider how this diversity impacts on students’ needs. This is as true in the development and delivery of blended/online learning as it would be in campus based provision.
1.2 How the move to blended/online learning will impact upon groups of students that share characteristics is unclear. There is a limited amount of data, knowledge and understanding on how blended/online teaching is received by different groups of students. For example, anecdotal feedback from DMU academic staff suggests that Chinese students are responding favourably to online learning, and BAME students are responding better to virtual personal tutor sessions but no evidence is available on how participation rates how other groups of students are engaging.
2. The legal framework
2.1 Under the Equality Act 2010 (EA2010) we are considered as a public sector organisation. This places a legal responsibility on us to ensure that we are considering and working to advance equality of opportunity of the different protected characteristic groups as defined in the EA2010.
2.2 The characteristics that are covered under the EA2010 are: age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. For the purposes of moving to online provision, and considering DMUs cohort, consideration of economic disadvantage should also be given.
2.3 Adherence to the statement of principle/expectations assists us in our compliance with our legal duties. The PAE process later in the year will ask colleagues to report back on how they have met these principles/expectations.
3. Understood / recognised impacts requiring consideration
In addition to the statement of principle/expectation, there are a number of issues that are surfacing as a result of COVID-19 that will impact on our staff and students, and which all programmes should be aware of:
3.1 Some staff and students will have increased pressures on their time due to additional caring or working responsibilities. This will impact on staff ability to develop and deliver new learning provision and for students to engage with synchronous delivery.
3.2 The BAME population appears to be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, and the consequences of contracting it are more severe. This could have multiple impacts including increased caring responsibilities, lost income (individual or familial) and ability to engage with learning or attend any campus based provision.
3.3 There has been a national increase in the number of reports of domestic violence. This will be affecting some of our staff and students and there will be an associated impact on their ability to work and study.
3.4 The number of national reports of racist incidences and xenophobia has increased. This will impact on staff and students regardless of whether they themselves have been victims.
3.5 The availability of spaces, places, and appropriate equipment to study and work will vary for both staff and students and this will impact on the ability of staff to create and deliver content, and for students to access it.
3.6 There is a reduction in the opportunities available for social and professional interactions. This may impact on the wellbeing of all staff and students, but particularly affect those groups of people whose communities at university are particularly important for them, and which may not be readily available at home. This may include BAME and faith communities and LGBT people (especially those that are not out at home). Additionally, international students may be even more adversely affected due to cultural differences being more difficult to adapt to in a blended learning environment.