How we work towards racial equality

We are committed to ensuring that our institutional values are creating equitable opportunities and outcomes for minority ethnic groups. We have implemented an extensive action plan that encompasses an elimination of the awarding gap for black students and a comprehensive approach to decolonise the institutional curriculum. 

Race Equality Action Plan

We have been working hard to finalise the University's Race Equality Action Plan; a comprehensive list of actions that are being implemented across the University as short-, medium- and long-term actions.

The plan aims to close the BAME awarding rate gap and improving race equality for staff and students. The full action plan document has an exhaustive list of the timeline and the expected impact levels of each action.

Download full Race Equality Action Plan (PDF)

  • Targeted student peer mentoring scheme
  • Examine data to determine any PGR BAME awarding/success gaps
  • Examine data to determine any PGT BAME awarding/success gaps
  • Review scheduling of exams and assessment deadlines (e.g. provided on non-religious days)
  • Establishing anonymous marking for all written assessment
  • Assessment workshop session on assessment brief (all modules)
  • Student self-evaluation prior to submission
  • Formative assessment/activities in preparation for summative assessment (all modules)
  • Tailored student support based on learning analytics
  • Produce infographic poster of ‘Diversity of typical classroom’  
  • Scale up of quantitative (meta-analysis) research on BAME awarding gap
  • Focus groups to understand low satisfaction among BAME students
  • Provide MEQ scores by student ethnicity (White/BAME) to departments/lecturers where possible (ensuring student anonymity)
  • Inclusive teaching practices (training and implementation) – co-design with students
  • Searchable library database to support diverse reading lists
  • Decolonising curriculum (training and implementation through curriculum review) – co-design with students

  • Develop mandatory ‘Introduction to Race Equity’ e-module for all staff and PGRs
  • Develop ‘Zero tolerance to hate’ e-module for students 
  • Establish liaison group with Surrey police about management of race-related incidents, include student consultation
  • SU Policy on appropriateness of song choices in Rubix 
  • Targeted peer mentoring scheme
  • Awareness building among students and staff about racism and impact of mental health (story-telling, talking heads on EDI webpage) 
  • Improve diversity of staff at Centre for Wellbeing
  • BAME student and staff network wellbeing events 

  • Set up race/ethnicity research network
  • Peer mentoring scheme for PGR students and Early Career Researchers
  • Investigate establishment of studentship programme for BAME student/s
  • Establish safe space for PGRs to discuss experiences of racism 

  • Access to more detailed data to improve monitoring capacity of inequalities in student outcomes (including disaggregation of BAME groups)
  • Set up mentoring relationship with another university as their beacon activity (KCL, Bristol, Kingston)
  • Networking with TASO to learn about sector best practice
  • Strong EB commitment – Race Equality champions from Senior Management 
  • Set up Anti-Racism staff and student working group and development of action plan
  • Improving internal communication around issues of diversity and culture (website, emails, regular features)
  • Appropriate EB KPI on BAME Awarding Gap with specific KPI for relevant leadership
  • Alumni banner campaign for campus (including strong representation from BAME alumni)
  • Digital and physical poster materials celebrating our BAME students and alumni and their achievements (overlapping with the previous one) 
  • Permanent artwork to celebrate Black Lives Matter 
  • ‘Surrey BAME Powerlist’ – celebrating most influential BAME leaders in the communities we work with
  • Equality conference (focus on race)
  • Celebratory relevant events throughout year (cultural, faith etc.) 
  • Develop webpages as a place to articulate action and a resource repository 
  • Publish Race Equality and BAME awarding gap stats and action plan on website with up to date progress
  • Introduction of award celebrating BAME student contribution to EDI 
  • Set up BAME staff network (with standing item in staff newsletter) 
  • Focus groups with BAME staff to understand responses to Staff Culture Survey
  • Roadshows to present Access & Participation and BAME Awarding Gap to faculty colleagues
  • Race equity training for senior leaders, as part of broader EDI awareness raising
  • Investigate audio feature with correct name pronunciation on staff webpages 

  • Interview Chairs to remind panel of importance of diversity and to challenge unconscious bias 
  • Strengthened face-to-face equity training mandatory for all those involved in staff interviewing
  • Develop consistent approach to PhD student recruitment to reduce potential bias
  • EDI statement on job adverts/website (much bolder general statement + specific focus on under-represented groups in advertised roles) 
  • Broader/targeted staff recruitment advertisement to diverse audiences on social media and other appropriate channels 
  • Broader/targeted PGR student recruitment advertisement to diverse audiences on social media and other appropriate channels 
  • Re-prioritise school outreach activities to include focus on schools with higher BAME representation 
  • Ethnic diversity of interview panels to be considered (where possible) 
  • Mandala career development programme for BAME staff – partnership with Royal Holloway 
  • Investigate feasibility of anonymous short-listing of applications
  • Set recruitment agencies diversity targets, apply penalties where targets not met (consider engagement of diversity-focused agency)
  • All procurement companies to demonstrate/commit to equality standard
  • All research/industry partners to demonstrate/commit to equality standard
  • Placement companies to demonstrate/commit to equality standard
  • Training for placement tutors in handing reports of racism
  • Staff mentoring scheme – greater number of BAME mentors
  • BAME student champions/ambassadors (paid) 
  • Including EDI as standalone component of staff appraisal
  • Evaluate need for a BAME Staff Support Officer role (permanent) 

Report + Support

We have a zero tolerance policy towards abuse, bullying, harassment, hate crime and sexual misconduct. All staff, students and visitors to campus can report a racially motivated incident anonymously or with their contact details through our report and support service. Anonymous or identifiable reports can be submitted as a racially motivated incident and we strongly encourage the use of this tool for anyone who may need it. 

Closing the attainment gap

The BAME awarding gap is the gap in degree awarding of firsts and 2:1s between White and students who identify as being from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This gap is observed in most UK universities and is widely acknowledged to result from structural inequalities embedded within the UK’s higher education institutions.

At Surrey, we are working really hard to close our awarding gap and we are delighted to say that it has reduced from 26 percentage points last year between Black and White students to 15 percentage points this year. But we will not be content until we have reduced this much further. In a collaborative effort with the Students’ Union, Pro VC Education Professor Osama Khan has led the development of a comprehensive action plan to close our BAME awarding gap and improve race equality generally across our community. This action plan includes a range of actions, including decolonising the curriculum.

Decolonising the curriculum

Decolonising the curriculum can be interpreted in many ways but ultimately it refers to a fundamental ‘rethink’ of what is taught, how it is taught and who is represented in the teaching and delivery.

The process encourages academics to create spaces and opportunities for dialogue with students about how we can reimagine our traditional views on our subject areas. This is a really important process to ensure that we are presenting more diverse perspectives, as well as acknowledging all those who have contributed to the development of our fields of study. This is one of the action points within our action plan, and we will be looking to support departments in their engagement with decolonisation and diversification of curriculum. Some great work has already been started by our Library and Learning Services in their decolonisation of reading lists and we are looking to expand on this great initiative.