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Equality and diversity

Towards race equality

Information about how we are aiming to improve diversity and achieve equality of experience at York St John University.

York St John University is committed to addressing inequalities, injustices and challenges facing society today.

We know that race inequalities are a problem across the higher education sector, and achieving race equality is central to our social justice mission. That is why we have committed to a five-year action plan to become an anti-racist university.

Our current actions include:

  • More funded places for the AdvanceHE Diversifying Leadership course
  • York St John Leadership programme that incorporates anti-racist values
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training for the senior leadership team
  • New inclusive writing guidance
  • A working group to develop anti-racist pedagogy and decolonisation of the curriculum
  • Regular meetings between the Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff network and the Executive Board

These actions are part of our ongoing commitment to the Advance HE Race Equality Charter (REC). The REC provides a rigorous and and robust framework through which universities work to critically reflect and act on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of the progression and success of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and staff.

Race Equality Charter Bronze logo

Gaining the Race Equality Charter Bronze Award 


Between September 2020 and July 2022, a self-assessment team co-chaired by Dr Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi and Professor Richard Bourne actively examined data and evidence and considered how the University should respond. This involved a process of listening to students and staff. York St John University Students' Union supported this vital work. We submitted our YSJ Race Equality Charter Application (PDF, 3MB) in July 2022.

In November 2022, we were conferred a REC bronze award by AdvanceHE. This recognises the robust plan we have in place to tackle racial inequalities at York St John.

We are one of only 37 institutions to hold a Race Equality Charter award.

10 key actions

Our 10 key actions in the YSJ Race Equality Charter Action Plan 2022/23 (PDF, 0.4MB) relate to: 

  • Wider communications of our ethos, values and standards as an inclusive and welcoming university that supports a diverse and culturally rich community.
  • Foregrounding the voices and experiences of the BAME staff and student community.
  • Fostering student engagement to support our work towards becoming a more diverse and anti-racist university.
  • Embedding anti-racist pedagogy and decolonised curriculum into learning and teaching.
  • Improving recruitment processes to address under-representation and to ensure fairness and transparency.
  • Enhancing support for, and removing barriers to, career progression for BAME staff and good student outcomes for BAME students.
  • Expanding opportunities for continued professional development and learning from each other to become an anti-racist university.
  • Using positive action where this is needed to address under-representation in student body and workforce, for example through scholarships and recruitment to senior management roles.
  • Ensuring effective mechanisms to address race-related incidents, including information campaigns.
  • Strengthening monitoring mechanisms to ensure the effectiveness of our actions and increase accountability. 

This has been underpinned by considerable investment in additional training and activities to support and engage staff and students. 

Data and evidence

Our data and evidence revealed uneasy truths about differentials in experiences and outcomes that affect our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students and staff. This demonstrated why it is so important for us to act now: 

  • Students and staff of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background are under-represented across the York St John community. In particular, professional service and support staff are less ethnically diverse when compared to the local community in York. At the same time, BAME staff are significantly under-represented in senior appointments. However, a concerted effort in governor recruitment has led to a significant increase in the diversity of the Board of Governors. Our London campus has a much more diverse student and staff population.
  • Sudents and staff want the York St John community to have a better understanding of racial equality and more confidence to talk about race. Equally, they would like staff to have better capability to address racial inequalities.
  • Racist incidents are under-reported. Staff and students are unclear about processes to report race-related incidents and expressed various levels of trust in the process.

Much of our five-year action plan builds on work already taking place that focuses on social justice, including decolonising the curriculum. You can read more about these activities on our anti-racism page. We will continue to engage across our community as we implement our action plan.

Our collective responsibility

We've started an important movement towards achieving race equality by gaining a Race Equality Charter bronze award.

Working towards race equality is everybody's responsibility and we invite you to be part of this commitment. Read more about ongoing activities on our anti-racism page. Look out for opportunities to get involved via updates in YSJ Today and on the MyYSJ app. Be part of the movement to make York St John a more diverse and anti-racist university.

What we have achieved so far

  • Enhancing oversight of the institutional action plan through a Project Steering Group Board and dedicated support from Strategy and Planning.
  • Adoption of an 'equal merit principle' for shortlisting and increased transparency for the hiring process.
  • Working with external partners to diversify applicant pool.
  • Worked with Advance HE to deliver a programme in 2023 to enable the Executive Board and the Strategic Leadership Team to lead equality, diversity and inclusion across the University, with a specific focus on anti-racism.
  • We have co-opted members of Academic Board Committees to address under-representation of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds or who identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Staff networks have been extensively consulted regarding academic promotion criteria and process.
  • Launched a package of race equity training for all staff, which aims to enable all staff to take action to work towards race equity in their roles within YSJ.
  • Collaborating with student and staff at the University of York as part of The Anti-Racism Working Group.
  • We run a vibrant series of “Discussing Decolonisation” workshops to develop shared understandings and build community discursively.
  • We identified interventions to reduce differentials between student demographic groups across access, continuation, completion, award and progression.
  • We created GRACE: Global Readiness and Cultural Education – a comprehensive initiative for students and University staff to help prepare participants for effective interaction and success at YSJ.
  • We are part of make York an Anti-Racist City initiative.
  • We continue to run the Anti-racist Pedagogy Group.