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Universities take the lead in tackling racial inequalities

30 May 2014

Thirty higher education institutions, including Abertay University, have today signed up to a new equality charter mark to show their commitment to tackling racial inequalities in higher education.

By participating in the national trial of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) race equality charter mark, these institutions will be working hard to improve the representation, progression and success of their minority ethnic staff and students.

Those that can show real progression over the next year, alongside ambitious action plans for future work, will be able to submit for a charter mark award in spring 2015.

Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Abertay University, said: “We are proud to be part of this national initiative to tackle racial inequalities in higher education.

“By working towards the ECU’s race equality charter mark we will be able to demonstrate and reaffirm Abertay's commitment to equality and diversity, and to helping staff and students to realise their full potential whatever their background.”

Claire Herbert, ECU's senior policy adviser leading on the race equality charter mark, said: “We all know that there continue to be racial inequalities in higher education. We are delighted to see so many institutions of all sizes, locations, specialisms and mission groups put themselves forward for the trial.

“Participation in the charter mark involves being brave enough to reflect honestly on areas where more work is needed. It is inspiring to see these institutions step up to the challenge and show how much they value equality for all their staff and students.

“We have undertaken a lot of work and consultation to make sure the charter mark framework is relevant and achievable, but also challenging. The views of minority ethnic staff and students will be very important throughout the trial to ensure their perspectives are embedded in the charter and that it will have a meaningful impact on their experience of the sector.

“I look forward to supporting these institutions as they work together to make a real difference to race equality across the sector.”

Following the trial, it is intended that the charter mark will be open to all higher education institutions in the UK in 2015.

Participating universities

The following institutions have signed up to take part in the trial:


  • Abertay University
  • Birkbeck College
  • Cardiff University
  • Coventry University
  • De Montfort University
  • Institute of Education
  • King's College London
  • Kingston University
  • Leeds Metropolitan University
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Robert Gordon University
  • Royal Holloway
  • Staffordshire University
  • University College London
  • University of Bradford
  • University of Brighton
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • University of East London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Reading
  • University of Salford
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Ulster
  • University of Westminster



Abertay University contact – Chris Wilson (Communications Manager) – T: 01382 308522 M: 07837 250284 E:

Equality Challenge Unit contact – Anna Roberts (Communications Manager) T: 020 7438 1018 M: 07810 556 724 E:

Notes to editors:

Equality Challenge Unit works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education across all four nations of the UK, and in colleges in Scotland.

For the past ten years, Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) has managed the Athena SWAN charter mark which aims to increase the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). Athena SWAN has had a significant impact on the sector and feedback from institutions suggests that it is leading to cultural change within STEMM departments and increasing the representation of women.

Following this success, ECU, with support from the sector, is developing:

A charter mark for race equality to improve the experience and the representation within higher education for minority ethnic staff and students.

A gender equality charter mark that will cover, social sciences, arts and humanities subject areas

ECU works closely with colleges and universities to seek to ensure that staff and students are not unfairly excluded, marginalised or disadvantaged because of age, disability, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or through any combination of these characteristics or other unfair treatment.

Equality Challenge Unit is funded by Universities UK, GuildHE, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland.

For more information visit the ECU website or follow us on Twitter: @EqualityInHE

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