Equality, Diversity and Inclusion or EDI for short seems to be at the top of every University list of things to be incorporating into their charter and rightly so with nearly 25% of first year undergraduates being from a BAME background (BBC, 2018).
In May, Advanced HE delivered a workshop on embedding EDI in the curriculum, which started by usefully exploring what we understand by EDI…
I always thought of equality as everyone -regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, race or physical ability – being able to have the same opportunities as each other; yet we do not all have the same start in life, so the question we should be asking along with “do all students have access to these opportunities?” is “are we equipping all our students with the right tools based on their personal needs to succeed once these opportunities are available to them?”
Equality and equity go hand in hand.
Diversity extends beyond ethnicity, age, gender and physical abilities, there are many invisible diversity traits we may not readily consider when discussing it, such as sexual orientation, socio-economic status, beliefs and marital status to name a few (more examples seen below).
Inclusion – not only making sure that no matter their background or identity, staff and students are welcomed into the University openly, but also taking proactive measures to mend eroded relationships where this has not been the case.
At Bristol this work is crucial now more than ever, with ‘33% BME students saying that inclusion of diverse perspectives was extremely/relatively bad’ in the 2017 BME Attainment Gap report.
This workshop provided an excellent opportunity to interact with senior staff members, especially Faculty Education Directors to discuss what is being done – for example always making sure that the hearing loops are on and speaking into the mic before starting the lecture – where the gaps are and what needs to be done better with regards to embedding EDI; using the framework provided by Advanced HE (pictured below), it was helpful to see the key domains of EDI as well as highlighting that though there are pockets of good practise within the University, there’s still work to be done to standardise the practise across the board.
One aspect which was agreed unanimously, was the inclusion of student’s voice in all eight domains, especially policy making, curriculum design and delivery.
As a BME Success Advocate it was heartening to see the steps that the University has taken, with creating this role, providing a link between students and faculty; though including more literature by people of colour in reading lists and providing units on the effects of Colonialism is a good start, true embedding of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the curriculum can only be achieved when Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is not viewed as an ‘optional’ choice, but a key corner stone for all faculties (including Science Technology Engineering and Maths based subjects!). So, I make this plea to you that you work with us and consult on our views, and trust that we as students are known to generate creative and effective solutions to the problems.
To get in contact and work with our student advocates, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Samya Sarfaraz, BME Success Advocate – Reviewing Team