Proposed actions following student and staff Race Equality Charter surveys

students in gunwharf

Over 2,000 students and staff provided feedback for a Race Equality Charter action plan

  • 15 September 2020
  • 6 min read
Changes to course delivery including decolonisation of the curriculum, setting up a University Race Equality Supporters Network, and leadership training for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students as Welcome Ambassadors to build their self confidence and impact, are some of the actions proposed following staff and student Race Equality Charter (REC) surveys. 

Over 2,000 students and staff provided feedback for a REC action plan to improve the representation, progression and success of our minority ethnic students and staff. Working in partnership with the Students’ Union, the University signed up to the Charter in July 2018 and aims to submit for a Bronze award in February 2021. 

The submission will build upon the clear commitment to racial equality and identification of key challenges that the University already has in place through the University Strategy and the Access and Participation Plan

The final draft submission and action plan will be brought back to the University Executive Board (UEB) for approval by January 2021 ahead of submission in mid-February.

Some of the surveys’ findings and proposed actions can be found below. 

Key findings – Student survey

The following questions received the highest and lowest proportion of positive responses. 

We’re aware of discussions around the acronym ‘BAME’ and we would like to reassure students and staff that we do not believe in grouping cohorts together under one generic name and understand that each community has different experiences. However, due to the term ‘BAME’ being used by the Office for Students (OfS) and Government departments, we will continue with its use for consistency in the work we will be doing.

Questions which received the highest proportion of positive responses

Question % positive BAME % positive White
 I would recommend the University of Portsmouth to a prospective student  84%  90%
 I am comfortable approaching course tutors with any questions or queries  84%  84%
 I feel that I am progressing well in my course  79%  86%

Questions which received the lowest proportion of positive responses

 Question % positive BAME % positive White
I regularly attend Students’ Union events  13%  13%
I considered the ethnic/racial diversity of the University of Portsmouth before applying to study here  42%  12%
The ethnic/racial diversity of the local Portsmouth population impacts on my day-to-day life  44%  12%

Areas for action 

We intend to submit for a Race Equality Charter Bronze award in mid-February 2021 with a robust three year action plan in consultation with students and staff. Planned actions to be taken include: 

  • Recruiting a team of BAME student ambassadors, with three students per faculty to represent and support BAME students.
  • Setting up a University Race Equality Supporters Network for the start of the new academic year. 
  • Developing race awareness training for staff and students.

8 key challenges and options for action 

Eight key challenges have emerged through the REC process and analysis of student and staff feedback. Here are some examples of options for action, with many more being considered.

1. Low numbers of BAME staff across the University, particularly in Professional and Support roles
Work to ensure balanced representation on job interview panels including BAME representation. Develop and support a pool of BAME staff members to diversify recruitment panels prioritised for recruitment to senior posts.

2. BAME staff concerns about lack of career opportunities
Investigate and introduce a BAME leadership development programme, similar to Aurora for women.

3. Under reporting of staff and student ethnicity details affecting monitoring and action planning
Increase ethnicity disclosure rates, and staff confidence in disclosure through regular targeted communication.

4. Degree attainment gap between BAME and White students

Extension of OfS-funded pilot project using BAME and male students as Welcome Ambassadors, with the introduction of leadership training for Ambassadors to build their self confidence and impact.

5. Concern about curriculum and course content
Changes to delivery patterns, content and assessment to improve student engagement, including decolonisation of the curriculum and explicit integration of 'Hallmarks of Portsmouth Graduate'.

6. Low level of reported racial incidents with likely under reporting by both staff and students
Review use of Report and Support and all other forms of racial incident complaints one year after introduction of Report and Support.

7. Wider concerns around University culture and race
Introduce specific training for staff and students on race, racism and how to tackle it.

8. Concern about student and staff experiences in wider Portsmouth community
Work in partnership with Portsmouth City Council. NHS and other key partners and city stakeholders to identify shared approaches to address community safety and cohesion.