From education to employment

Union warns college and universities to improve practices

A union has expressed concern over the implementation of crucial race relations legislation by colleges and universities, citing “little has been done”.

The University and College Union (UCU) will next week chair a conference entitled “All For Race Equality”¦Are You?” in order to discuss the Race Relations Amendment Act (RRAA) and its requirement that FE and HE institutions “monitor and improve” their practices.

Roger Kline, Head of Equality and Employment Rights at UCU, said: “How well equality duties are implemented is a good indicator of how well colleges and universities generally treat their staff, but sadly four years since the RRAA almost no progress has been made in ensuring fair recruitment and promotion”.

The conference will bring together lecturers and academic-related staff from across the UK, and will “begin a campaign to help employers in Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) to speed up implementation of the RRAA”.

According to a statement released yesterday: “Colleges still struggle to produce Race Equality Policies which reflect the uniqueness of their institution – some even charge fees for a copy of the policy; routinely fail to produce pre-emptive Race Equality Impact Assessments to ascertain whether a particular policy or procedure may have an adverse impact on ethnic minorities; less than 1% of college Principals are black; college governing boards do not reflect the constituency they serve”.

Mr Kline added: “This conference will equip UCU branches to kick-start some improvement. We shall be exploring ways of working with employers to improve their practices, reminding them that if they get this right there are benefits for everyone”.

“Transparency in appointments and promotions would show that procedures are genuinely fair. This is good for equality, for staff career progression and for morale. The key to change is leadership and we are seeking a partnership with employers which will convert policy from the pages of documents into improvements in the working lives of all employees”.

Vijay Pattni.

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