Lund University is a member of LERU

(League of European Research Universites)

How can universities build an equal, diverse and inclusive organisation?

LERU seminar, Diversity opportunities, 2 Dec in Lund

LERU’s just released position paper, “Equality, diversity and inclusion at universities: the power of a systemic approach”, is the culmination of two years’ intensive work. Many members of LERU universities were consulted, the latest research evidence on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) was examined and examples of good practice were collected from LERU universities.

At the launch event today in Brussels, Prof. Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Provost (Education) at Imperial College London and the paper’s lead author, was thrilled this work has finally come to fruition: “We hope this paper can be the start of a high-level and involved conversation that will lead to a collaborative process of implementing much needed, sustainable change, both institutionally and across universities and the wider higher education community.”

Prof. Simone Buitendijk and a team of academic experts from LERU universities wrote the manifesto, which makes the case for why universities should and how they can engage with EDI. The manifesto is followed by three other sections: an analysis of opportunities for universities to engage with EDI, several research-based contributions on specific EDI challenges, and examples of what LERU universities are actually doing to build equal, diverse and inclusive organisations.

The paper’s key message is that EDI can be more effectively promoted at universities by making use of a comprehensive approach. Such an approach needs to be holistic and systemic in 1/ addressing inclusion and enhanced representation of all under-represented groups; 2/ aiming at the entire academic community of staff and students together; and 3/ making the content of both the research and the research-led curriculum more inclusive.

From becoming familiar with the key lessons emerging from the large body of research related to privilege and the effects of bias, to monitoring and measuring the present situation and the impact of programmes introduced to bring about change, to developing a formal strategy which is holistic in approach and can also deliver bespoke solutions for the different EDI issues and groups, and to communicating from the highest levels of university leadership, the paper offers a wealth of inspiration for what universities can do.
What the paper does not do is to provide a cookie-cutter blueprint applicable to all universities. Says Prof. Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU: “Universities work in different national and local contexts, and with different strategies for education, research, innovation and societal engagement. We are confident in our hope that the leadership of the LERU universities will continue to develop and refine their EDI strategies for comprehensive, long-term strategic change in their own institutions. As an organisation, LERU will encourage further collaboration among its members on EDI issues and will engage with other universities, policy makers, governments and funders in Europe and beyond.”

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