Improving E&D can support an institution’s strategic positioning and offer a basis of competitive advantage.
Higher education is highly competitive. Institutions compete fiercely to recruit and retain the best talent: students and staff, who in turn materially affect the institution’s performance and reputation.
The best talent is highly mobile, and institutions perceived as not being diverse, or failing to take E&D seriously, are likely to be avoided by individuals and groups who believe they might be disadvantaged. Equally, institutions viewed as accommodating E&D are more likely to attract and retain a broad base of students and staff.
For example, many UK institutions are highly dependent financially on the recruitment of international students. Are these students appropriately supported by the institution? Equally, how well does the institution support disabled learners with a wide range impairments (e.g., physical or learning), and accommodate individuals from different religious, cultural backgrounds or social settings.
There is a strong business case for ensuring that E&D of students and staff is taken seriously.
Many institutional mission and value statements incorporate a commitment to E&D, or focus on linked concepts such as internationalisation or social and civic duties. However, mission and value statements are only effective when translated into action. The governing body’s role in providing oversight of the institution’s direction and performance should ensure the institution delivers on E&D commitments and objectives.
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