Equality, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
where students from all backgrounds can flourish. We believe that diversity brings strength and that the opportunity to mix with fellow students from all walks of life will foster mutual understanding and tolerance. We are one of Seven Programmes within the MPLS Doctoral Training Centre, which has EEDI at the very heart of it’s policies and practices and you can find information about the DTC’s EEDI mission, and links to a wide range of resources for students and staff here https://www.dtc.ox.ac.uk/equality-equity-diversity-inclusion
We understand that Oxford is a large institution and that the lived experience of students can vary widely in such a spread-out organisation. Oxford is making huge efforts to address the inequities of the past and this is still a work in progress. Only by increasing the numbers of students from under-represented groups can the pace of change be accelerated.
To that end we have taken a number of steps to open up the DTP to students from a range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. We know that there need to be support networks and structures already in place for students from these groups and these are some of the actions we have taken, or are involved in. We welcome input from students, and potential applicants, as to how we might improve our support, and our environment, for them.
Supporting Current Students
As a programme within the wider Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), we participate in many EDI-related activities bringing the different programmes together.
There is an EDI committee on which our academics and students serve, advising us on the needs of our students and proposing initiatives to support them. There are a number of student champions for groups of students:
- Disability and Accessibility
- Race and Ethnic Diversity
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion without portfolio
- Belief and Religion
- Mature Students and Students with Caring Responsibilities
- Access and Inclusion
This committee hosts weekly teas and breakfasts during term-time aimed at supporting students in these groups, and it is also possible to propose additional champions for groups.
We provide bystander and unconscious bias training to our first year students to help them understand their own potential for unconscious bias and give them the confidence to be an effective bystander in instances where they may witness harassment or micro-aggressions directed to other students.
We carried out a project in 2021 to assess why we receive so few applications from people of colour to our programme, and to find out how we can reach those students. As part of this project, students from ethnic minorities on the programme formed a focus group and were kind enough to share their experiences before, during and after applying. In response to this survey we have made some changes to our marketing and recruitment processes, with more planned. These were the main recommendations of the report which have so far been acted on.
More and better contextual information to help identify able students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
A contextual information form is now included as part of the admissions process. In addition, we anonymise applications in order to eliminate unconscious bias, as far as possible. All interview panels are required to undergo unconscious bias training prior to reviewing applications.
More active promotion of the fully-funded aspect of the DTP
We now promote the DTP through both Twitter and Instagram accounts. We have started a database of EDI organisations that we include in our promotional campaigns. We are also collaborating with other NERC DTPs to identify additional networks. We have commissioned short videos for use on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok and a longer film for our website. All of our material highlights that we only offer fully-funded places.
Provision of funding to support students with long term mental health issues.
Although we cannot provide funding for therapy, we are able to grant funding extensions which allow students with mental health difficulties to take more time to complete. We also offer support in how to apply for this additional funding, and how to access the counselling service. We can help in identifying affordable private counsellors and therapists and point towards hardship funding when using those services impacts on a student’s finances.
Regular discussion groups where students can express concerns and feelings openly
The DTC’s EDI committee offers weekly meet-ups where students can socialise and raise issues of concern in a safe space. The DTP’s programme manager is also the welfare officer and is always available for students to come to for support both emotional and practical.
Address perceptions about Oxford and what it means to be a “normal” student
The DTP is running a pilot programme in 2022-23, a two-day admissions workshop which aims to bring potential applicants physically to Oxford to meet Oxford staff and students, and get support in aspects of the application where disadvantaged students may need help such as CV writing, interview techniques, what assessors are looking for in an application, and imposter syndrome.
Planned for 2023 is a series of short videos to shed light on aspects of the DTC, student life at Oxford, and projects and supervisors.
- More nuanced, focused and targeted access for the BAME BIPOC community, recognising the discrepancies of different ethnic groups.
- Allowing access to speak with current students in virtual coffee breaks or similar events.
- Making our instructions, and the website generally, clearer and more inclusive.
BIPOC Voices and Communities seminar series.
In 2020 we inaugurated this seminar series which ran over two academic years giving a platform to academics from Indigenous peoples, and ethnically diverse backgrounds, to discuss their lived experience, and inspire our students. This series was incredibly well-received by all our students. This is on a temporary hiatus in 2022-23 as we are recruiting a new course director to run the programme, but this will return as soon as that director has been appointed.
We know that Diversity is not the same thing as Inclusion, we want both. More needs to be done to ensure that students from all backgrounds feel supported, safe and welcome at Oxford and elsewhere. We welcome, and ask for your input. Please contact us to suggest more things we can do to achieve this goal.