Advance HE will undertake a major review of the Athena SWAN Charter, ensuring that it is fit for current and future needs of institutions, individuals and the sector as a whole.
The Charter is a flagship accreditation scheme which recognises the work of higher education institutions and research institutes to address gender equality within academia and research.
Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London, is to chair the steering group, which will be responsible for leading the independent review.
A former member of the Athena Forum, an independent committee focused on diversity in STEMM, Julia is Brunel’s first female Vice-Chancellor. She is also on the board of Universities UK (UUK), Chair of the Research Concordat Strategy Group and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary University Group Council.
The steering group will consult with the higher education sector and organisations that support and contribute to its work. It will also develop recommendations on the positioning of Athena SWAN and guidelines for the application and assessment of awards.
The review will consider:
- The requirements for each level of accreditation and review of the standard application process
- The administrative burden on institutions and members of the Athena SWAN panels
- Clarity and consistency as to how applications are assessed against the criteria.
Advance HE’s CEO Alison Johns said: “The launch of Advance HE is a new opportunity to evaluate our flagship programmes and we are confident that the review of Athena SWAN will ensure it continues to be a highly valued accreditation within the sector.
“Since becoming CEO of Advance HE I have had positive feedback that Athena SWAN has enhanced careers and opportunities for many academics. However, there has also been feedback from institutions asking for the Charter to be reviewed to ensure it maintains its rigour and credibility, whilst reducing the administrative burden.
“We understand these concerns and our aim is to enable institutions to focus their energy on the changes they wish to bring about in order to make a difference.
“I have been delighted with the interest and support from the Athena SWAN network about the review, which is being carried out alongside a more wide-ranging consultation with the sector to ensure that we meet the needs of both institutions and individuals as we co-create the future offering of Advance HE.
Alison added: “I am confident that the review will bring about positive dialogue and ensure that Athena SWAN continues to be a catalyst for meaningful change in the current and future higher education landscape.”
Julia commented: “Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter is something I am very passionate about, and I believe this review will provide an opportunity to re-consider its scope, which has evolved considerably in recent years, as well as the application and review processes.
“I look forward to working with the steering group to ensure the Athena SWAN awards continue to be recognised as a hallmark of gender equality while reducing the burden of the awards application process.”
The steering group will hold its first meeting early this summer and aims to complete its work in early 2019.
Institutions are assured that no changes will be made to the Athena SWAN process during the review.