In May 2018, our Provost, Professor Janice Kay, set up a new Commission to recommend and implement new approaches, events, initiatives and policies to ensure we are an open, diverse and safe university community for all. The Provost Commission was designed to extend and work alongside the work of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team and others working in this area.
Members of the Provost Commission include students, members of the Students' Guild and The Students' Union in Cornwall, academic and professional colleagues from across the institution - including our Speak Out Guardians.
What has the Provost Commission done?
The Provost Commission started meeting in May 2018 to consider how to ensure we are an open diverse and safe university community. An immediate priority was to enhance reporting tools for harassment and discrimination. As a result, the Exeter Speaks Out pages were created and a new tool for anonymous reporting has been introduced.
The Provost Commission has raised awareness of our commitment to inclusivity including through events, speaker series and through Freshers Week. The Commission initiated a project to consider how teaching and learning can be more inclusive and a range of new materials and resources have been produced as a result. Alongside these other activities, the Commission requested a review of the Freedom of Expression and Events Policy at the university which followed a number of complaints about an event in February 2019.
You can read more about the Provost Commission activities below or access the Provost Commission 2018/19 Report.
An immediate priority was to enhance reporting tools for harassment and discrimination. As a result the Exeter Speaks Out pages were created and a new tool for anonymous reporting has been introduced. Speak Out Guardians were introduced in 2018 promoting a different avenue to raise concerns and these roles have been positively received. Overall, we now have much better ways of handling and responding to complaints. We have also raised awareness of these reporting routes through poster and communications campaigns.
In terms of induction and training, changes were first made for 2018 Freshers Week and have been enhanced for 2019 Freshers Week to ensure that our commitment to equality and diversity was highlighted and that students were aware of how to report any issues. For future this will also be integrated into an Induction Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
Work is continuing to develop exciting new training and resources in 2019 for staff and students on equality, diversity and inclusivity.
Professor Andrew McRae has led a sub group of Provost Commission members, student representatives and Professional Services staff considering how the curriculum can be made more inclusive. The group has connected with the Education Incubator which has been trialling innovations in inclusivity.
As a result of the work of the group new support and resources on how to create an inclusive curriculum have been developed. These were launched at the Education Conference in 2019. The Teaching Quality Assurance and Enhancement (TQAE). You can find the resources here. We also participated in an AdvanceHE project, ’Embedding Inclusivity.’ This has given us further resources and support to build inclusivity into the curriculum which will be implemented.
The Provost Commission also provided support for discussions around ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ supporting a student and staff led event in English and a discussion event at the Exeter Respect on Campus.
Looking forward, the new Education Strategy and in particular the ‘Success for All’ workstream will be instrumental in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their academic potential.
A key theme of activity has been working to celebrate our diversity as well as making the campus environments more inclusive.
In addition to the annual programme of activities run by EDI team, Voices work in Penryn and #WeAreAllExeter events by the Guild in Exeter, an annual Exeter Respect on Campus Festival was created in 2018. This was Student Guild led with the organisers of the annual Respect Festival in the city. The aim was for this to become an annual event and in May 2019 a second Exeter Respect on Campus was held.
Given the low number of diverse role models at the university a new Individuality Speaker Series was launched in November to bring speakers to the campuses who are champions of equality and are able to bring different perspectives. Two speaker events were held in 2018/19 with Professor Tawara Goode, Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University (USA) and Zrinka Bralo, the CEO of Migrants Organise. The series will continue in 2019/20 with a range of speakers being invited.
What is next?
Work has been underway to develop a new Vision for Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, led by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity team in consultation with the community. This is a Vision that covers all aspects of activity to promote equality across the University for staff and for students and links to other key areas of activity such as Widening Participation.
As such, the new Vision has drawn upon the work of the Provost Commission and will be the vehicle to take forward the actions and priorities identified by the Provost Commission. A new governance structure is being established to enable this cross-University approach which the Provost Commission will be part of.
The Provost Commission will continue to operate in 2019/20. It will be a forum with a wide membership to discuss innovations to promote equality, diversity and inclusivity and to monitor the impact of the new EDI Vision and Strategy. As such it will be known as the Provost Commission Forum for Innovation in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.