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Equality and diversity

Belonging: Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2022-2027)

Last updated: 23 May 2022

Our Vision:

“To create an inclusive University where everyone is treated fairly and with respect, where we feel valued and have a sense of belonging; a culture where it is safe to speak up and speak out and where we are empowered to grow and realise our full potential.” 


Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy is a strategy for everyone.  From our students and staff, and those we hope will join us in the future, to our partners, suppliers, and contractors. We intend it to be a catalyst for corporate, collaborative action, bringing about systemic change to improve our performance and reputation.

What do we mean by Equity Diversity and Inclusion?

The Equality Act, 2010 places a Public Sector Equity Duty[1] on public bodies to positively promote equality not merely to avoid discrimination. It makes clear that compliance with the duty might involve treating some people more favourably than others. The duty covers the nine protected characteristics race, sex, disability, age, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage, civil partnerships. We are committed to achieve beyond our legal requirement, recognising that we can only fulfil our vision by adopting a broader approach encompassing equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Our Strategy encapsulates our focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion with ambitious objectives for change. It signals a deliberate move towards a fully integrated approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion where structures and systems are aligned, and inclusive behaviours are recognised and rewarded. It articulates a clear direction and vision for the university. Coming at a time of national and global spotlight on equity, diversity and inclusion generally, it is both relevant and important for University of Gloucestershire to strengthen its approach.

To foster an inclusive culture, we need to ensure staff and students feel welcomed, respected, safe, and empowered to share their cultures, heritage, and identities. We want everyone to feel they belong to the University community and valued as an individual. Priorities within our Strategy focus on the implementation of both institutional actions and the interpersonal relationships of senior leadership, staff, and students.

Our Equity Diversity and Inclusion Aims:

As well as being integral to the University’s Strategic Plan, our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy is built on the belief that a robust Strategy will enable us to become a more effective and competitive institution. We aim to ensure that:

Our Strategy includes unambiguous and actionable goals, recognising that what gets measured is understood and learned. They enable us to focus on what is really important, identify trends so that we can better understand our successes, learn from our mistakes, and inform our decision-making.

Implementation of our Strategy is supported by an action plan. Leadership for our strategy rests with our Executive team, but responsibility sits with our whole community to influence, support and champion our direction of travel and the delivery of activities and programmes. Progress against our strategy will be monitored annually by our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and reported through our Executive team out to all our staff. A monitoring report will also be published on the equity page of our website, alongside the progress reports of our previous action plans. This framework increases transparency and accountability and will support our change in behaviours.

Our approach sets the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy on equal footing with other key strategies and facilitates the integration of equity, diversity, and inclusion principles across all university strategies.

Where are we now?

Our development of an effective equity, diversity and inclusion strategy builds on existing work involving many people and numerous different areas of activity.

Our Access and Participation Plan sets out how we will fulfil our strategic aim to identify and reduce barriers, challenge perceptions, and provide continual support for all students to ensure we are fostering, enabling, and promoting equity at all stages of the student lifecycle: access, success (continuation and attainment) and progression. The assessment of our performance identified priority areas and we set ourselves stretching and ambitious targets that will have the greatest impact relative to our context.

Our Outreach Team and Gloucestershire’s Uniconnect, GROWs, is led by the University, and works specifically to widen access to the University from under-represented groups. All our outreach is strategic, following a ‘Theory of Change’ framework to support robust implementation and evaluation. Multiple stakeholder engagement is secured via an annual student focus group.

Outreach interactions are targeted towards schools and colleges in the Southwest and West Midlands, with high proportions of students from Black, Asian and minority ethnicities, students living in low progression to HE postcodes, and those experiencing multiple indicators of deprivation [IMD] to address their under-representation in our student community. Interactions include a range of progressive opportunities relevant to age and stage, including in school and college; subject and university support, and on campus residentials and taster days.

We believe our education should be strongly flavoured by our key thematic ambitions. In 2018 we introduced our Learning Design programme to ensure that in their design, curriculum, structure and delivery, all our courses provide the best possible support for students to learn successfully. Recognising that sense of belonging is key to academic success, one of the programme’s core objectives is “to utilise inclusive approaches to teaching and support for learning that improve retention, progression and attainment to increase the extent to which all students achieve their intended academic and professional study goals”. This programme has now been enshrined in a set of principles which cover the design, development, delivery, assessment and continuous monitoring of our courses, teaching, learning and assessment practices.

We have also delivered our ‘Learning Innovation for Tomorrow’ project (LiFT) focussed on articulating a framework around ‘decolonising teaching and learning.’ This project, initiated by the Sustainability Team, led by members of our Black Asian, Minority Ethnic + Staff/Student Network, has been so successful that the framework has been embedded within the goals of this strategy. This Network, together with our Pride and Women’s networks, is helping to shape and lead cultural change.

The Equality Impact Assessment undertaken on our 2021 REF (Research Excellence Framework) Code of Practice suggested that we had made good progress in addressing the challenges we faced in 2014, revealing no significant differences in gender, disability, age or working hours in those staff submitted into the REF. We continue to support female career development through our participation in Aurora, with 36 women participating since Aurora’s inception; and our female professors have formed a group to review issues of gender in relation to research at the university, and actively support the career progression of our female academic staff. We continue our work to understand patterns of inclusion/exclusion for some Black and minority ethnic staff.

Our staff demographic profile lacks diversity, and alongside our work to be more inclusive, we are improving our workforce diversity. Fair and transparent recruitment processes are crucial, and we have taken steps to ensure our processes are without bias, resulting in small, but welcome, increases in the diversity of both applicants and appointments. Our minority ethnic profile has increased by one percentage point to 7.44% and our disability profile by half a percentage point to 7%. Our gender split has remained largely stable in recent years with a female population of 62% and male of 38%.  This is against a minority ethnic student profile of 10.1% and disability profile of 24.1% (2018/19). We ensure that all those involved in recruitment complete mandatory recruitment training. We have also rolled out mandatory equality, diversity and inclusion training for all staff and promote unconscious bias training. To date, 465 staff have completed the equality, diversity and inclusion training, and 291 the unconscious bias. 144 staff have also undertaken our ‘Developing Inclusive Behaviours workshop’ focussing specifically on behaviours to create an inclusive culture. This equips staff with the knowledge and skills to implement and behave in an inclusive way and gives them the confidence and agency to challenge inappropriate behaviour.

Valuing the importance of fairness and transparency in this area, we conduct biennial equal pay reviews and evaluate the impact of actions in our gender pay gap action plan on an annual basis. We have seen a reduction in our Median gender pay gap of 5% and whilst our Mean gap has fluctuated since 2017, it is slightly lower in 2020. We are not complacent, actively seeking to learn from the good practice of others through regular benchmarking activities. Our recent equal pay review (2020) indicated there were no significant pay gaps, with the exception of ethnicity. This is due to the under-representation of minority ethnic staff in our workforce, which we are actively addressing.

During 2020/21, we took the decision to join the new Student Minds Mental Health Charter programme, which has led to the University being one of the first 35 institutions in the UK to sign up. The programme has been designed to bring together colleagues from across the sector to engage regularly with the ambition to enhancing the mental wellbeing for students through a ‘whole university approach’; the hope is that colleagues from the University will be able to fully utilise the programme to share and develop best practice, and to get access to high quality resources.

Student Minds are managing a new award framework that sits alongside the Charter, and universities are now able to apply to be assessed against the various themes and expectations of the Charter and if successful will be given the Mental Health Charter Award from a ‘pass’ level through to a ‘distinction’ which will last for a 5-year period; the assessment process will include a self-assessment and inspections from assessors that are employed directly by Student Minds.

At this point, we have taken the decision to fully engage in the programme for 2021/22 and review the benefits of being part of the new venture; towards the end of the academic year a decision will be taken with regards to seeking to participate in the assessment and award process during 2022/23.

As we seek to build and develop an integrated approach to equity, diversity and inclusion, we value the strong foundations put in place by the excellent work of teams and individuals.

Our multi faith chaplaincy team provide a listening ear for students of all faiths and beliefs, offering a welcome sanctuary space on each of our campuses. These spaces are particularly well used as catch ups and meeting places for our international students. The chaplaincy run regular trips for international students, enriching their learning of living and studying in the UK, alongside hosting monthly ‘international suppers’ and the ‘Global Café’. Recognising the unique challenges this group of students’ experience, we have introduced the role of International Student Support Officer. This role works closely with our International Student Experience group, set up to enhance their whole student journey. This now includes actively supporting those students who successfully complete their programme in applying for the Graduate Route visa, enabling them to live and work in the UK after their studies.

Funding is often perceived as a barrier to access UK higher education options from some nationalities. In 2021/22 we reviewed our international funding packages to ensure parity from the International Grant Award which is an automatic £3,000 fee waiver available to overseas fee-paying students who do not live in the UK (previously the amount differed according to country of domicile). We also changed our approach to international scholarship allocation from a previously merit based system to an inclusive offer where we welcome applications from students who can equally demonstrate skills, knowledge or relevant life experience outside of academic first-class achievement. In addition, undergraduate scholarships now form part of the University offer, aiming to support access for students at this level, alongside postgraduate. A progression partner award has also been introduced to encourage students from our partner institutions to apply and study at our UK campuses as opposed to in-country, again demonstrating our support to increase opportunities to students who might not otherwise have the financial means to access higher education in the UK. 

In recognition of the additional challenges and barriers in accessing higher education faced by refugees and people seeking asylum, and their dependants, we offer a Sanctuary Scholarship for one new undergraduate student and one new postgraduate taught student per academic year. The scholarship covers full tuition fees and up to £10,000 per year, which may take the form of a bursary or funding for additional support, dependent on the successful applicant’s circumstances.

More than three hundred student-facing staff have been trained as Mental Health First Aiders through a partnership with Southwest and Swindon Mind, and we’ve recruited volunteer Mental Health Facilitators who provide initial support and conversation for staff who have a wellbeing or mental health concern, as well as signpost to further appropriate help. We have put in place several targeted interventions to develop and raise confidence in employability for groups of students including the Sprint Programme for female students and employability events for disabled students. For our minority ethnic students, we introduced our Reciprocal Mentoring Programme. This programme provides this under-represented student group the opportunity to be partnered with a senior leader in a reciprocal mentoring partnership. Its aims are twofold: to expand the level of cultural awareness of our senior leadership through students sharing their stories, and to improve the experiences for this student group by creating a sense of belonging. In return, students receive professional advice, guidance and help with employability and networking. Both partners continue to identify clear benefits, and the insight senior leaders gain is leading to institutional change.

We have committed to highlighting and addressing all forms of discrimination, ensuring that they have no place within our university. This includes but is not limited to racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia, transphobia, disablism and misogyny. Part of our interventions to ensure students and staff feel safe, is the establishment of online processes to report, and receive support for, incidents, concerns and complaints about equity and inclusion issues. Incidents can be reported anonymously or by identification. All reported incidents, where students and staff provide their details, are responded to, and followed up, with action tailored to the individual. These processes have been in place from the start of the academic year 2019/20, and we are seeing a steady flow of incidents being reported, indicating trust in the process. Signposting includes advice and help available both internal and external to the university and is available to those who report anonymously.

In the autumn of 2021, we carried out a staff inclusion survey. For the first time we were able to collect feedback on how inclusive our staff perceive the university to be. The survey provided a platform for all staff to have their voice heard and 41% responded. Staff gave a 58% favourability score indicating that 58% of staff perceive the University to be inclusive. The analysis from the data reaffirmed our priorities to date; they have been shaped into specific actions and performance measures and incorporated into this strategy.

As an ‘anchor institution’, we are an organisation whose character and identity is significantly shaped by our place, and which in turn as a highly networked and visible organisation helps to shape the identity of our place. We are well connected to the equality and inclusion infrastructure of Gloucestershire with our recognition as a ‘Disability Confident Leader,’ and ‘Inclusive Employer’ awarded by inclusivity works; our longstanding involvement in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire’s LGBT+ Partnership and our engagement with Gloucester’s Race Equality Commission. Creating this strong civic identify, reinforces the sense of belonging for our students and staff not only to the university but also the local community. 

We have taken all the learning from this wide range of activities to inform the design and development of the priorities we now need to focus on. Some of these priorities build on existing areas to extend the progress already made. Others are new areas supporting the transition to fully integrate equity, diversity and inclusion into our management systems and processes, our behaviours, and the student experience.

Our Strategic Equity Diversity and Inclusion Goals.

Goal 1

Attract, retain, develop, and support a more diverse workforce

Alongside increasing the diversity of applicants and appointments, we are focussed on improving the diversity of our workforce at all levels and roles across the University to enhance our creativity, innovation, and performance. We are working to create an environment where the contributions of all staff are valued, all staff are encouraged, and feel comfortable, to contribute their unique perspective to achieving our strategic goals.

We will achieve this by:

Goal 2

Improve students’ experiences, supporting their mental and physical wellbeing, creating a sense of belonging so they learn, thrive and achieve.

Develop consistent and meaningful approaches to listen, hear and engage our Student Voice. In partnership with the Students Union, we will generate actionable insight into barriers preventing students’ positive mental and physical wellbeing, realising their full potential or being their authentic selves.

The University will build on its strong history of taking a university-wide approach to ensure our students thrive and deliver the aim set out in the Student Wellbeing Strategy 2018 -2023: “‘To provide our students with the support and positive encouragement they need to be successful in their studies. We work to empower them to become successful learners from the very beginning of their studies giving them confidence through to completion, and beyond.”

We will achieve this by:

Goal 3

Increase engagement in equity, diversity, and inclusion practice across the University through learning opportunities, joint working and shared objectives.

We will seek out opportunities to increase, and celebrate, the engagement of staff and students, recognising and rewarding the contributions they make towards achieving our vision.

We will continue to collaborate within and across the University, and with local, regional, national, and international communities and partners to influence and learn from best equity, diversity, and inclusion practice.

This principle of inclusion and accessibility will continue to be integrated within our physical and virtual environments. Working in partnership, we will look to find innovative ways to create fully inclusive environments.

We will achieve this by:

Goal 4

Decolonise our culture and curriculum:

As stated in the University’s Equality Diversity, and Inclusion Policy Framework, we understand ‘decolonising the curriculum’ to be the process of ensuring that all our courses and modules are inclusive and accessible for all our students; that they promote an understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion as they de-construct existing hierarchies, integrate and recognise cultures, knowledge systems and intellectual, academic, scientific, and cultural achievement from around the world. This is not limited to the content of the curriculum but applies to the design and delivery of teaching, assessment, and support for students. The education we provide will be flexible and diverse, adapting to the ongoing evolution of each academic subject and its methods, to wider social, cultural, technological and economic trends, and to changes in students’ own expectations and priorities.

We will achieve this by:

Goal 5: Inclusive Governance

We are working to achieve more inclusive Governance, recognising that it will only be inclusive when it effectively meets the needs of, and engages all our staff and students, taking account of all facets of personal identity; all our policies, processes and services are accessible, accountable, and responsive to our whole community.

We will influence through our partnerships and procurement processes.

We will achieve this by:

[1] PSED: Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; Advance equity of opportunity between people who do and do not share a protected characteristic, and Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share a protected characteristic.

Key Performance Measures to achieve our Vision:

Goal 11.1To increase the proportion of leadership and management staff who declare as being from an under-represented group. Our starting point in April 2022 was as follows:
45.3% sex
0.0% gender identity
6.3% racial minority
5.5% sexual orientation
4.7% religion or belief
3.9% disability
1.2To increase the proportion of all staff who declare as being from an under-represented group. Our starting point in April 2022 was as follows:
0.2% gender identity
8.5% racial minority
5.8% sexual orientation
6.6% religion or belief
8.3% disability
1.3Reduce our gender Median pay gap to 10% by 2023.
1.4Successfully renew our Disability Confident Leader accreditation by January 2023.
Goal 2:2.1Achievement of the targets in our current (and any future revised) Access and Participation Plan by 2026/27.
2.2Reduce the gap between the awarding of good first degrees to Black students and white students on full time first-degree courses to 7.5% by 2025 on our journey to eliminating it completely.
2.3Achieve the Student Minds Charter Award during 2022/23 to improve the health and mental wellbeing of all our students.
Goal 3:3.195% of staff to have completed all mandatory equality, diversity and inclusion e-learning within their probationary period, or 6 months from enrolment on the platform.
3.2Achieve ‘Advanced’ level of Healthy Workplaces Gloucestershire Award during the academic year 2022/23 to seek further improvement in our approach to ensuring the wellbeing of our staff.
3.3Resolve 100% of incidents and concerns reported by students and staff using our reporting systems.
Goal 4:4.1100% of academic staff to have engaged in development addressing inclusive learning and teaching practice by the end of 2023/24 supporting the creation of an inclusive culture.
4.2Each school and Subject Community to have adopted its unique approach to integrating our decolonising principles into all assessments, and course validations by the end of 2025/26.
Goal 5:5.1All Council Members to report at least ‘sufficient’ levels of competency against competency M5.5 in the University’s iteration of the Institute of Director’s Competency Framework, with a minimum of 25% reporting ‘expert’ levels of competency.
5.2Staff Inclusion Survey results show improvements in how inclusive the University is perceived to be: Increase our Favourability score from
58% in 2022 to 65% by 2023, 75% by 2025, and 80% by 2027.
5.3Publish internally 100% of completed Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs).


Our key performance measures include both milestones and performance indicators, which are defined as:

Notes to specific measures:

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