Over the course of enhancing the Race Equality Charter (REC), we made a commitment to the sector to focus the development on a set of goals, pertaining to streamline, support, engage and be led by impact over the course of this period.
Considering our development goals, here we share insights on what and how we are streamlining the REC to ensure our processes are enhanced, provide more clarity to our members and what we are doing to reduce any administrative burden and enhance engagement with the REC principles.
In a recent blog, Dr Arun Verma, Head of the REC, discussed the journey of the REC enhancement to date, driven by the publication of two independent reviews in 2019 and 2021. A recommendation from the 2021 review, was for the current REC award assessment feedback to continue to be developed to help focus and streamline panel discussions to the consideration of the assessment criteria. To address this, we are implementing an improved peer-review award process that includes a transparent and consistent approach to the assessment of award applications against award criteria.
Together with the provision of constructive feedback to applicants, we aim to provide a developmental and supportive approach for institutions committed to advancing their race equality work.
Enhancing the processes
The REC framework is comprised of many mechanisms and processes that enable members to participate in a flexible and adaptable framework. Self-assessment and peer-review are crucial mechanisms to engaging institutions and key agents in universities to engage in impactful conversations about race in their local and institutional contexts. The independent reviews highlighted a variety of recommendations to help improve the rigour of these processes.
In April 2021, we facilitated an event to discuss the REC criteria and to learn from members on how to provide support to members applying the criteria to their self-assessment and peer-review processes, and we are in the process of developing further guidance to our criteria to support members engaging with the REC framework.
Engaging the sector over the last year and in response to the recommendations from the independent reviews, we are introducing an application assessment scoring rubric with descriptors outlining the standard required to demonstrate achievement of each award criterion; written guidance on award panel processes has been developed for panel members; the panel and applicant feedback forms have been redesigned with greater focus on the assessment of applications against the award criteria, and identified areas for improvement and development; a ‘minor revisions’ process for applications that have narrowly missed meeting the award criteria is being adopted; and the time between application submission and result notification is being reduced through streamlined administrative processes.
The redesigned peer-review panel processes have been piloted in the February 2022 award round. To support Chairs and panel members complete and participate in the new processes, a training session focused on the application requirements and processes was recently held. To ensure standardisation of award panel processes, the training will be repeated for newly recruited Chairs and panel members.
What this means for the REC and our members
Implementing a transparent, focused, and developmental approach to the peer-review panel processes will enable purposeful panel discussion of an application assessment, and key points of constructive feedback for the applicant that are clear and aligned with the award criteria.
Streamlining and improving the REC processes are enabling and facilitating more developmental conversations where our applicants can make accelerated steps to advancing race equality.
Dr Diana Piscitelli is Charters Assessment Manager, Race Equality, and Dr Arun Verma is Head of the Race Equality Charter at Advance HE.