18.10.21 IUA welcomes publication of HEA Report on Race Equality in Higher Education as universities roll out ‘Let’s Talk About Race in the Higher Education Sector’

IUA welcomes the publication of the report of the HEA survey on Race Equality in the Higher Education Sector. The evidence gathered by the survey, and the analysis and consideration of the issues raised in this report, along with the recommendations, provide a basis for universities to further develop policies and actions to address race inequality in higher education.

One such action, which is the culmination of many months work, is the roll out commencing  this week by the eight IUA universities, of an online training programme ‘Let’s Talk About Race in the Higher Education Sector’. This course for staff and students is a key initiative in building the intercultural understanding and competence required to achieve systemic change.

This specifically commissioned module will complement the existing race awareness and education activities of the universities, as well as other specific initiatives, such as curriculum reviews, Universities of Sanctuary initiatives, and intercultural events alongside new mechanisms for building cultures of dignity and respect which build a sense of inclusion for all members of university communities.

In addition, next week also sees the launch by Minister Harris of the Speak Out ‘report and support’ tool. This tool will enable anonymous reporting, by students and staff, of all forms of harassment and bullying, including race related issues. The tool also provides information and guidance in relation to sources of help and support.

Advancing race equality is on the EDI agenda of every university, and the material in the HEA report will provide a further basis to assist universities in understanding and rethinking how race works in our higher education system. In particular it will help us to understand and address the institutional policies, processes and practices which embed and reproduce inequalities between staff of different backgrounds.

The HEA report is also an important educational resource in highlighting the fact that racism is not just about overtly racist actions, such as racial harassment and hate crime, which unfortunately are still a problem in our society, and regrettably are on the rise (INAR 2020 report[1]).

Commenting on the report, Colin Scott, Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at UCD and Chair of the IUA VPs of EDI Group said, “What this report highlights are the wider systemic and structural issues where ingrained and/or unconscious biases and assumptions cause people to be treated differently . It is noted that these racial microaggressions, as they are termed in the report may be much more prevalent issues than more overt forms of racism and they provide one of a number of focal points for recommended actions to address racism in higher education. The university sector is keen to better understand the challenges and to take action in terms of policies and practices”.


Editor’s Notes

  • 3,323 staff across the higher education sector responded to the HEA survey. More information and survey results are available from hea.ie
  • See separate word doc to have a look at the range of activities that are happening across the university sector to address racism/race inequality.
  • For more information on the IUA training course contact Tony McMahon, IUA Associate Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  tony.mcmahon@iua.ie and for media queries contact Lia O’Sullivan Head of Communications IUA lia.osullivan@iua.ie 085 7141414

Race Equality Resources in Universities (Oct 2021)

1. NUI Galway

  • An established Intercultural Campus workstream of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Campus Committee (EDICC) focused on core issues of racism, international student experience divide, international staff support and experience, and international staff retention.
  • Owen Ward appointed as NUIG’s first full-time Traveller Education Officer to lead the teaching and learning of students from the Traveller community. Owen is a Traveller, qualified teacher and alumnus of NUI Galway.
  • NUI Galway has University of Sanctuary designation with support of a dedicated University of Sanctuary Officer. 12 UoS scholarships have been awarded across the colleges, for three Irish Travellers and nine International Protection Applicants/refugees this year. The university continues to increase participation for International Protection Applicants, refugees, vulnerable migrants and Irish Travellers
  • Race Equality Training for University Management Team members and staff networks rolled out in 2020
  • Delivery of Inter-cultural Awareness & Communication training on semester basis
  • Established International Staff Network
  • Commitment to embed a zero-tolerance approach to racism on campus via the development of an institutional policy document on racism and an anti-racism campaign on campus and in the broader community (EDI Strategy 2020-2025)

2. UCC

3. UCD


4. UL

Standing Together – Embracing Diversity at UL | UL – Equality and Diversity Video here.

  • Ethnic Diversity Forum has been established.

5. Maynooth University

Maynooth University (MU) is actively working to address racism in higher education in all its forms through multiple initiatives including:

Staff learning opportunities:

  • Development of a staff guide: Creating intercultural learning environments Guidelines for staff within Higher Education Institutions
  • EDI Calendar –  to support MU staff and students to recognise and celebrate a variety of occasions throughout the Academic Year
  • EDI in HE e-learning – Module on Race Equality Let’s Talk About Race in HE
  • MU Race Equality Reading Group – This supports discussion among staff from different parts of the University to explore texts and have discussions on historic, institutional, and individual racism in Ireland and internationally.
  • Work with the MU Library on decolonising the library collection
  • Development of anti-racism teaching and learning supports for academic staff
  • Development of anti-racism supports for administrative, technical and support (ATP) staff
  • Discussion of microaggressions included in new Staff Induction and new Head of Department EDI training

Staff and Student Conversations:

  • Race Equity at Maynooth University Panel – Open Panel Discussion held with Students on Race Equity in Maynooth University, 28th July 2020.  This included President Professor Philip Nolan and panellists – Senator Eileen Flynn (MU graduate), Bukky Adebowale, Tina Adinga & Megan Berry.  (This followed on from previous Open Discussion Forum Race Equality sessions held in 2019 co-hosted by MSU and the Vice President for Equality & Diversity)
  • Staff Race Equality Forum
  • Student Race Equality Forum

Student Focused Initiatives:

  • Appointment of a dedicated Traveller Outreach Officer, Megan Berry in the Maynooth Access Office
  • New Minceir Senator to be appointed this year for Maynooth Student’s Union (MSU), to complement the existing MSU Ethnic Diversity Senator.
  • MU University of Sanctuary Scholarships for students in direct provision
  • Active engagement with EDI Office and Restorative Justice Mediation available to help address issues if they arise
  • College Connect project Community Needs Analysis (CNA) with refugees and people seeking asylum – Exploring access and barriers to higher education in Ireland. Launching on 17th November 2021.

Staff Focused Initiatives:

  • Mandatory Recruitment Skills training for Heads of Department and other employees who sit on selection and interview panels, this includes understanding how bias can impact the recruitment process
  • MU Inaugural Intersectionality Lecture held on 20th May 2021, Dr Christen Smith ‘The Critical Praxis of Citing Black Women’
  • MU Scholars at Risk (SAR) Fellowship 2021/22 for researchers fleeing their homeland
  • MU hosts the Scholars at Risk Europe Office, and is a partner in the EU-funded InSPIREurope initiative to support researchers at risk. Professor Rowena Pecchenino, MU is the chair of SAR-Ireland.
  • MU is a member of the National HEA/Athena SWAN Ireland Intersectionality Working Group, represented by Dr Chandana Mathur and Sam Blanckensee who inputted to the ‘Race Equality in Irish Higher Education’ Survey

See also our MU EDI Annual Report 2019/20 for further information: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/sites/default/files/filefield_paths/M13472%20-MAYNOOTH%20UNIVERSITY_EDI%20Report_Hyperlinked_English_0.pdf and our Equality & Diversity Policy for guidance on equality issues or complaints.  For further information please contact Dr Gemma Irvine, Vice President for Equality & Diversity, Maynooth University for further information vicepresident.equality@mu.ie

6. DCU


7. TU Dublin

TU Dublin: Embedding anti-racism in the Community Development and Youth Work Programme (CDYW) 2020/2021. https://arrow.tudublin.ie/totalarcschcase/17/

8.  TCD

Ethnicity / Nationality – Equality – Trinity College Dublin (tcd.ie)