The Race Equality Charter (REC) provides a framework for universities to self-assess and identify institutional and cultural barriers for minority ethnic staff and students. A key part of the self-assessment process is to consult with staff and students. Consultation data are fundamental to developing a REC application and actions to change the College.
2018 staff and student surveys
We initially surveyed staff and students in 2018 to explore their experiences of race, racism and race equity at the College. The questions for these surveys are set by Advance HE, the organisation that runs REC. Our surveys had a good response from our Imperial community, with 1,516 responses to the staff survey, and 531 responses to the student survey.
The comments from the survey were grouped into key themes and helped us to pinpoint the issues for further investigation:
2019 focus groups
Following on from the 2018 surveys, we commissioned an external consultant to explore the survey findings in more depth using qualitative interviews and focus groups.
These focus groups and interviews covered the following topics: sense of belonging; senior management commitment; recruitment and selection; career development; student experience; everyday racism; reporting incidents; involvement of white staff and students in race equality work. A total of 45 people participated: 6 students and 39 members of staff members.
When you don’t look like us, you don’t know how difficult it is…they don’t understand what it’s like"
A focus group participant
The external consultant then produced a 2019 REC focus groups report (pdf) for us to consider.
The recommendations from the report included suggestions on how to improve training and mentoring; how to deal with microaggressions; the role of line managers; recruitment practices; outreach and further engagement.
2020 student focus groups
In recognition of the low number of student participants in our first set of focus groups, we held additional focus groups in July 2020 which attracted 34 students.
The external consultant who facilitated the focus groups produced a 2020 REC student focus groups report (pdf).
2021 town hall events
In March 2021, we held town hall events for staff and students. These events aimed to share a summary of our work so far, discuss the action plan being formulated, and hear views from the College communities. Questions and comments at the events helped shape the final draft of our REC application.