Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today (17 January 2013) unveiled its new Statement of Expectations for Equality and Diversity, which is intended to drive more rapid cultural change in the management of equality and diversity in institutions receiving Research Council funding.
In line with legislation in the Equality Act 2010, higher education institutions must have policies in place to address equality and diversity issues. RCUK has developed the Statement to assess whether these policies are working in practice, embedded at all levels in institutions, and take account of the whole spectrum of equality and diversity issues.
RCUK will review the overall effectiveness of organisations’ approaches at a departmental and institutional level through its Audit and Assurance Programme. We will also discuss equality and diversity during institutional visits.
Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of Research Councils UK, said: “RCUK promotes and supports equality and diversity within research at all levels. The rewards of diversity are significant: recruiting staff from the widest possible pool unlocks talent and thus contributes to the success of research and brings major benefits to the UK's economy and society. However, despite positive progress, there are still too many groups under-represented and I hope that RCUK's emphasis on equality and diversity will stimulate further action across the research community. ”
The Statement sets out RCUK’s expectations and provides suggestions for evidence that institutions may wish to use. At this time, RCUK does not require formal accreditation, such as Athena SWAN, for grant funding; however, we will be reviewing and may consider such measures if there is no evidence of improvement.
David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: "We are committed to ensuring that the UK research base remains world-class and that we attract and retain the brightest and best researchers, regardless of their background. I welcome the RCUK Statement. It will provide an incentive to universities to improve the impact of their equality and diversity policies, ensuring that the workforce reflects society and makes use of all the talents available to it."
The Statement has been informed by RCUK’s work over the last year with relevant sector organisations and universities to review ways in which equality and diversity can best be supported in research.
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The UK funding bodies – the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE); the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (DEL) are supportive of the Statement and are keen to ensure that, in relation to research staff, equality and diversity issues are understood, visible and prioritised in higher education institutions. We specifically welcome the suggested application of the Every Researcher Counts resource which we funded as part of our implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.
RCUK welcomes the Royal Society of Edinburgh report Tapping All Our Talents: Women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: A Strategy for Scotland, published in April 2012. The report was used as evidence in reviewing which was used as evidence in reviewing the ways in which equality and diversity can best be supported in research.
Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations. www.rcuk.ac.uk.
The seven UK Research Councils are:
- Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
- Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
- Medical Research Council (MRC);
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
- Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).