There’s no “I” in team
17th October 2018
I thought I would continue the theme of race in this week’s blog and talk about our Challenge for Change project. If you read our blog regularly, you’ll know this is our project with Advance HE. In April 2016, we were one of 12 universities selected to be part of their project, “Increasing diversity: Recruiting students from under-represented groups”. You can find our case study on the ECU page of Advance HE’s website. Our focus was on increasing the numbers of black and ethnic minority ethnic students, and improving their experiences whilst studying with us.
The project concludes at the end of this year, so we are currently evaluating the impact of our interventions. I thought it might be appropriate to share some personal reflections of our journey.
Looking back over the last 2 ½ years I realise that only three members of the original team remain, even our project sponsor is different. This has underlined for me:
- the value of having a clear vision, and
- the importance of recruiting the right people to a project team.
The energy and commitment of the original members ensured that the project not only continued, but also grew. Early evaluation indicates that the team have delivered actions that have been successful and will be sustainable.
Something else I have observed is that, simply initiating the project has been a catalyst for change. More colleagues are talking about diversity and inclusion generally, and incorporating it into their team meetings and away days. The project has given us confidence, perhaps even permission, to experiment with interventions. Moreover, involvement in a national project has raised our profile on a national stage. We will be presenting a paper on our reciprocal mentoring pilot at this year’s Advance HE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference in Liverpool. This can only be positive for our staff, students, and those who are considering studying or working with us.
Last week I attended a practitioner network hosted by UWE, Bristol. I heard three excellent presentations on some exciting and interesting work they are doing on race equality and widening participation. All three presenters highlighted the key role of sponsorship and resources. Reflecting on our project, I would definitely echo this. Whilst our executive sponsor changed, we maintained visible sponsorship from one particular senior leader throughout.
In relation to resources, we didn’t have any funding, but colleagues have certainly invested a significant amount of time: Colleagues from our two pilot schools – Media and Education, from Student Services, the Future Plan Team, Communications, Marketing and Student Recruitment and Strategic Planning and Projects. If I look externally, I would also include Jess Moody at Advance HE and Liz Thomas, the external consultant to the project.
Whilst we pull together the formal evaluation, anecdotally I know the project has been a success for the University. So thank you to all those who have been involved:
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”
You can keep up to date with our progress and achievements via the blog or follow us @UoGEquality