Our projects chosen for sector-leading equality and diversity practice report

Our ongoing commitment to equality and diversity has been recognised by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) who has selected eight of our projects to be used as case studies for a national report into sector-leading equality and diversity practice. Our projects were among a selection of 68 chosen from 120 individual submissions from 36 institutions.

The report showcases the most transformative ideas in equality and diversity practice. It will be presented to government and is available as a resource for the higher education sector.

Andrew Dodman, Chief Operating Officer, said: “I am delighted that our dedication to equality, diversity and inclusion has been recognised in this way. We believe passionately in the benefits of diversity, and strive to be a fully inclusive University community where both staff and students feel valued and can work together to maximise the benefits of difference. The projects selected are testimony to the hard work and innovation shown by everybody involved, and it is work like this that makes a huge impact here at the University, and now, thanks to the HEFCE report, the projects will have far-reaching effects across the sector.”

Seeking Education Equity and Diversity (SEED) programme

We are the first UK university to run SEED, a ground-breaking peer-led professional development programme originally developed in the US and adapted for UK higher education.

SEED provides an opportunity for participants to reflect practically and critically on equality and diversity issues within their own professional and teaching practices, job roles and working environments.

In the words of a participant on the project: "The SEED programme offers a unique opportunity for learning that not only supports the individual but provides a platform for better understanding issues of diversity and inequity in higher education."


SEED helps us grow in understanding: Display at the launch of the Learning and Teaching strategy


Pictured: Josephine Lawal, PhD Student, Materials Science and Engineering

Women in Engineering

We aim to be the number one place for women to study and work in engineering. Our Women in Engineering team is dedicated to increasing the numbers of female staff and student engineers and following recent promotions, 10.6 per cent of the professors in our Faculty of Engineering are female, significantly higher than the national average of six per cent.

In our 2016 Staff Survey, the Faculty of Engineering response to the question 'In my department there is a culture where all can flourish and succeed' was up from 64 per cent in 2014 to 73 per cent in 2016.

And 89 per cent of people responded positively to the question 'I feel that I work in a department that recognises and values diversity and difference'.

Josephine Lawal, pictured, features on on Women in Engineering's Wall of Women. She said of her career in engineering:

"I'm the only woman engineer in my family and during my first degree I was the only female in my department, but I'm used to it. I have a family and children and I'm still doing engineering, and being successful at it.

"We need to talk more and encourage girls to do it, I always love to do that. Encourage them and let them know what is possible. Whatever you you set your mind to, you can achieve it."

Inspiring the next generation of engineers – Suzie and Ricky

As part of the Engineering Is campaign, our Women in Engineering Student Society and Engineering Sheffield has created a children's book, Suzie and Ricky – The Crash Landing, with the message that girls and boys alike can aspire to be engineers.

Written by students from Engineering at Sheffield it tells the story of Suzie and her friend Ricky who discover an alien that has crash-landed in her back garden.

The children take the alien on their school trip to an engineering research institute and meet engineers from different subjects who help them build a rocket to send the alien home.

More than 2,000 copies that have been given out and the adventures of Suzie and Ricky has resonated so much with its young audience that a second print run is planned.

There's also an accompanying interactive website with games and activities to help children and teachers get to know engineering better, and in discovering how engineers help make a difference in the world, ignite their own ambitions.

crash landing

Suzie and Ricky's interactive website


One-to-one support is helping women across the University on their career paths

Impact and Futures mentoring scheme

Designed to address the sector-wide under-representation of female academics in professorial posts, our Impact and Futures mentoring schemes provide support and guidance for women across faculties by matching participants with mentees to support them in focussing on career development and overcoming barriers to progression.

Almost 200 academic women have participated in Impact and Futures mentoring programmes to date.

Open@TUOS: allies supporting LGBT

Led by our LGBT staff network, Open@TUoS is our initiative to empower all staff to help create an open, inclusive environment for LGBT colleagues and students at the University.

So far, more than 1,050 colleagues from across the University have signed up to Open@TUoS, many of whom are wearing rainbow lanyards to show their visible support for LGBT equality and inclusion. Anyone can pledge their support, regardless of sexual orientation.

HEFCE describe it as "a strong example of how institution-level networks can help to generate cultural change."

open@tuos launch

Colleagues at the launch of Open@TUoS

Mature learner

Mark studied English Literature as a mature student and says it gave him fresh impetus to pursue his ambitions

Full and part-time degrees with foundation year for mature students

We’re making degree level study accessible to a diverse range of mature students, and we've seen a significant increase in recruitment to the new full-time programmes since a review in 2014.

The programmes allow mature students to overcome barriers to study and to progress to degree-level study. Originally based in our Department for Lifelong Learning, students can study across 20 degree courses and four faculties.

Visit the course page

Disability and Dyslexia Support Service – supporting transition for applicants on the autism spectrum

For the past three years, we’ve offered tailored support for applicants on the autistic spectrum, with opportunities for pre-arrival support and guidance with our Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS).

Applicants can spend a day meeting experienced staff and exploring the campus. Students who later come to Sheffield report how valuable this initiation was for their transition to University life.

ddss open day

DDSS open day

woman at work in the lab

WARP helps female academics readjust more quickly when they return to work, post-maternity leave

Women Academic Returners’ Programme (WARP)

Our Women Academic Returners’ Programme (WARP) supports women who are returning to work after time off for maternity leave and it has made a huge difference across the institution.

Over 136 women have received awards since 2006 totalling over £1.7 million. Award recipients have since brought in over £12.5 million in apportioned research grant income to the University, representing a return on investment of over 620 per cent. The University also saw improved retention rates for women after maternity leave.

An academic in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health said of her experience of WARP:

“It is very easy to see the impact of the rollout of WARP across the University based on my experiences across two periods of pregnancy in different departments.

"The first time, when I was not eligible for WARP support (before it was adopted University-wide), I saw a huge dip in my research outputs and a much slower return to pre-pregnancy levels. The second time, when I had WARP funding, the dip was smaller and the time to return to previous levels was shorter."