The fifth annual Guardian University Awards took place in London on Wednesday 29 March 2017 to recognise outstanding achievement from universities across the UK. The awards, which are held each year to showcase best practice, achievement and innovation in higher education institutions, currently include two categories which highlight institutional advancements in equality and diversity.
Alongside other leaders from the higher education sector, ECU Chief Executive David Ruebain sat on the judging panel for the two categories, judging nominations for the Student Diversity and Widening Participation award (sponsored by Net Natives), and the award for Advancing Staff Equality.
The University of East London (UEL) were announced as the winners of the Student Diversity and Widening Participation award, due to their demonstrable commitment to increasing the number of disadvantaged and non-traditional students entering the university.
UEL won the award as the only institution to offer an accredited short course in the Calais refugee camp, which offered camp residents transferable undergraduate credits and a certificate, as well as the opportunity to build networks and friendships, and gain resources for daily life. 20 out of the 37 registered students passed the course, with plans for UEL, who subscribe to ECU, to deliver it to other refugee groups. Team members are also planning to deliver a two-year, Erasmus funded refugee education programme.
The award for Advancing Staff Equality was presented to the University of Wolverhampton, who also subscribe to ECU. Leading on a project called ‘BME steps to leadership’, the university developed a personal development programme aimed at aspiring BME academic and professional services staff who had taken on a junior management role, or those who wished to do so. The programme received 100% positive feedback from participants and is currently on its second cohort, with a third cohort in the planning stages.
The team at the University of Wolverhampton said in their entry that “the positive action approach led by the programme could easily be adopted by other universities where there is an underrepresentation of BME staff in leadership positions”
David Ruebain, ECU’s Chief Executive, said: “Both of these innovative and exciting initiatives demonstrate the pool of interest and commitment in addressing issues of underrepresentation and disadvantage in higher education. Moreover, they were selected from a strong field and I am delighted at the level of commitment in the sector”