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Nurse to help improve race equality in universities

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A leading nurse academic is to help raise the profile of black and minority ethnic people in higher education, after becoming a patron of a pioneering new scheme.

Laura Serrant, professor of community and public health nursing and director of research and enterprise at Wolverhampton University, has been appointed as a patron of the new national charter mark for race equality in higher education.

University of Wolverhampton

Professor Laura Serrant

Laura Serrant

The race equality charter was officially launched yesterday and is the first award scheme designed to recognise the work that universities are undertaking to advance race equality.

Universities applying to be awarded recognition by the charter must commit to its guiding principles, which include acknowledging the “complexity and often covert nature” of racial inequalities, and addressing “institutional and cultural barriers” faced by staff and students.

So far, 21 universities have applied for a charter mark under a pilot scheme. The first eight to have successfully achieved “bronze” level were unveiled yesterday. They received their awards from Professor Serrant at a ceremony on London.

The charter is being overseen by the Equality Challenge Unit, which works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education institutions across the UK.

The unit is funded by six bodies including Universities UK and the education funding councils for England, Wales and Scotland.

It said the need for the charter was “manifest”, highlighting that there is a “huge disparity in the representation and success of black and minority ethnic staff within UK universities”.

For example, it noted that out of 14,315 professors, just 70 were black. In addition, there was a degree attainment gap of 15.2% between BME students who achieved a first or 2:1 and their white counterparts.

Professor Serrant is the only nurse among the patrons, of which there are currently five. The other four are:

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