Equality, diversity and inclusion at universities: the power of a systemic approach

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This position paper examines the issue of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at universities. It is firstly a  manifesto which makes the case for why universities should and how they can engage with EDI. It also analyses the opportunities and benefits for universities to engage with EDI and it contains several research-based contributions on specific EDI challenges. Finally, the paper has a section with many examples of what LERU universities are actually doing to build equal, diverse and inclusive organisations.

From becoming familiar with the key lessons emerging from the large body of research related to privilege and the effects of bias, to monitoring and measuring the present situation and the impact of programmes introduced to bring about change, to developing a formal strategy which is holistic in approach and can also deliver bespoke solutions for the different EDI issues and groups, and to communicating from the highest levels of university leadership, the paper offers a wealth of inspiration for what universities can do. 

The paper’s key message is that EDI can be more effectively promoted at universities by making use of a comprehensive approach. Such an approach needs to be holistic and systemic in 1/ addressing inclusion and enhanced representation of all under-represented groups; 2/ aiming at the entire academic community of staff and students together; and 3/ making the content of both the research and the research-led curriculum more inclusive. 

Year of publication:
Sept 2019
Type of paper:
Position paper
  • Simone Buitendijk (Imperial College London)
  • Stephen Curry (Imperial College London)
  • Katrien Maes (LERU Office)