Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan
In 2021 we launched new iterations to our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan, which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff through the creation of an even more culturally inclusive and diverse University community
We are committed to driving diversity, equality and inclusion throughout our University community. We want our staff and students to feel empowered to challenge the inequalities they may see or face and contribute towards the actions in our University vision.
We are committed to removing barriers that may hold people back because we know that when people come together with different views, approaches and insights it can lead to a richer, more creative and innovative environment for teaching, research and student experience.
Our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan (RESAP) is a live document that was formally launched in Spring 2019 and is a culmination of the valuable partnership between students and staff at our University. We acknowledge that we still have work to do, therefore the document continues to be reviewed, updated and amended over time as we progress the actions and learn from our experience, our community and experts in this area.
This strategy and the surrounding work allows us to define exactly what we mean when we say we are progressing race equality at the University of Sheffield.
After launching the strategy, we set up a Race Equality Steering Group with membership from academic and professional staff as well as the Students’ Union in order to oversee this work. Since then, we have progressed a number of actions. The strategy and action plan is continually under review and has been updated to reflect what we have learned over the last two years. The actions are specific, measurable and achievable, and include targets and where possible, set timeframes. In addition, we have identified key departments and services responsible for leading action in particular areas. This work will be business as usual as it becomes embedded within standard University protocols and practices.
The last two years have been more challenging than we could have predicted. Events in the UK and across the globe including the BLM movement have pushed race inequality into the spotlight. The pandemic has added further complications as the University has had to pivot quickly in order to operate largely online. In spite of these challenges, we are still committed to working with our community to improve our University and these events have only further demonstrated the need to progress this work.
We want to acknowledge and thank everyone who has engaged us in the past two years, especially the students who have proactively raised issues. We’ve listened and will continue to listen, and your comments have guided us in making key decisions.
We’ve been holding some difficult but crucial conversations around the different areas of this action plan and we will continue to do so. We will continue to have a range of people and views represented at decision making groups and committees and will seek out constructive engagement from the members of our University.
I am pleased and encouraged by the way in which the whole University community has engaged with the Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan over the past two years. As readers will see from the updated plan, we have learned a great deal about our institutional culture and our capacity to advance race equality. While we have a distance to travel in key domains, we have a well signposted road and a clear method for reaching those goals.
Professor Susan Fitzmaurice
Chair of the Race Equality steering group
Our objectives have not fundamentally changed but as we have made progress we have updated and clarified the actions to achieve each objective. We will continue to welcome constructive and critical engagement in order to advance our strategy.
- Create an inclusive campus culture that facilitates belonging and promotes respect for students and staff and the wider community, measured by an increased sense of belonging reported in staff and student surveys.
- Widen access for students from BAME backgrounds through their transition to higher education and support these students to succeed once at TUoS
- Reduce the ethnicity awarding gap between BAME and white students to zero
- Improve graduate outcomes and sustain or improve progression to postgraduate education for BAME students
- Increase the diversity of the staff body and support the career progression of BAME staff
It is heartening to see the actions within the strategy being more explicitly articulated with increased individual and departmental accountability and appointed time frames. The University has acknowledged major challenges ahead and amongst other actions is starting to work towards the collection of reliable and representative data, the embedding of an inclusive culture within our institution and a prompt and proportionate response to racist behaviour. I believe that in time, these collective efforts will ensure that racial diversity is fairly represented at all levels of seniority and responsibility within our University. There remains much to be done, but we have taken initial and important steps.
Professor Amaka C Offiah
Chair of the BAME staff network
It is reassuring for the student body to see through the action plan that the university is becoming an actively anti-racist institution. It is vital that the university is holding individuals and departments accountable for a lack of prior action. Anti-racist work requires consistent efforts and must be part of the foundation and ethos of any institution. The Decolonising the Curriculum initiative is an important step towards promoting an inclusive learning environment. Race equality must not be an issue which is simply spoken about when it is deemed socially and politically relevant and it must be a present concern in every policy and measure that the university takes. We hope that the university continues to strive for equality.
Grace L Thambyrajah
Chair of the Student BME Society
Language can influence how we perceive and categorise reality. Throughout our work, we use the acronym BAME to stand for people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups within the UK. We are aware of the profound limitations of this term as it groups together a wide range of people and their various lived experiences. As we monitor our progress on the actions, we will check to see if a particular ethnicity or ethnicities within our UK BAME community face distinct challenges that need to be recognised and addressed.
We still need to use some classifications such as BAME and the racial classifications that make up BAME to analyse how ethnicity affects our processes, our experiences, and ultimately, our lives. We will take a path that enables a careful balance of progressing race equality whilst not racialising further. It is important to understand and tackle issues that groups of people may face and removing barriers they may face is a prior requirement needed in order to ultimately get to a world where we treat people as individuals and judge them for their actions.
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