A great deal of media attention has been given to the importance of inclusion policies as well as the duty placed on educational institutions through these policies. However, these policies often lack the practical steps of application required for implementation and seems to call for further investigation into the impact of these policies on the ground.
Ranjinder Kaur, the Higher Education Coordinator at Leicester College, handles the day to day operation and development of higher education programs. This includes disseminating the information to staff and students, ironing out issues within the programs and dealing with student complaints.
Diverse Student Body
Situated within a major city, Leicester College caters to diverse student body. Kaur feels that the college has always been inclusive and has traditionally attracted a broad spectrum of students and has more recently seen widening participation from minority groups. This is largely attributed to the college’s location, as diversity is part of the environment of the city, supported also by the infrastructure already in place.
In order to meet the needs of the widening spectrum of students the College has appointed an Equality and Diversity Manager, who leads staff training and support. Areas for improvement and development are pinpointed, and staff are offered assistance in areas where diversity may affect the curriculum, such as assessment.
In order to encourage more women into traditionally male roles, the college has launched a “Women in Engineering” campaign which, through advertisements and public speaking, encourages female students into engineering foundation courses. However, other than perhaps the female dominated area of Travel and Tourism, Kaur does not see gender representation to be a particular problem. Higher education programs at the college enjoy a good balance.
Although Kaur is confident with the college’s provision of equal opportunities for students, in a balanced environment with a high proportion of minority groups, he argues this is not reflected in the staffing of the college. The teaching staff demonstrate a relatively diverse cross section, whereas executive and managerial roles lack representation from minority groups. Kaur feels that it is important to see members of minority groups in these positions to provide a positive role model for students and staff alike.
Through his particular role at the college Kaur had been able to observe the college’s successful inclusion of its diverse range of students, through its curriculum provision and the equipping of staff through guidance and training. The college is seemingly meeting the duty placed on it by the government’s policies in terms of learning and teaching, however the college is still falling behind on its representation of minority groups within its own ranks.
Sarah Chard, Diversity and Equality Correspondent
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