The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) was established in 2001, following
agreement between a wide range of stakeholders and funders to support
the higher education sector to realise the potential of all staff and
students, whatever their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation,
religion and belief, or age, to the benefit of those individuals, higher
education institutions (HEIs) and society.
The ECU was last evaluated in 2005, and made significant changes to
their strategy and future direction as a result (e.g. taking on a new
remit for equality for students) and their current agreed end-date is 31
December 2010. The Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Wales,
Scotland and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern
Ireland have commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to undertake an
independent comprehensive evaluation of the Equality Challenge Unit
(ECU), in terms of its performance, stakeholder satisfaction, potential
future demand and resource needs.
A key part of the evaluation will be consultation with the HE sector and
PWC will select a sample of higher education institutions to visit from
around the UK. They will also ensure that the key sector representative
bodies are involved and consulted in this evaluation.
If your institution is selected to be one of the case study HEIs, then
PWC will contact you to arrange a convenient time to visit. They aim to
hold meetings with yourself or a member of your senior team, plus other
relevant members of staff (for example the HR Director, other staff with
equal opportunities responsibility, and representatives of minority
staff groups). These discussions would examine current institutional
strategies with regard to equal opportunities, awareness and use of the
services offered by the Equality Challenge Unit, and likely areas where
future support would be useful.
Information gathered as part of these visits will be supplemented by a
number of semi-structured telephone interviews with staff at other
institutions, and a wider online survey across the sector which we would
invite you to circulate to other colleagues. All the information
provided by institutions as part of this study will be treated in
strictest confidence. HEFCE would like to strongly endorse and encourage
your participation in this important project; we are all operating in a
changing economic and political environment, where current and possible
future legislative developments have potentially significant impacts on
the HE sector.
If you would like to feed in any comments directly to PWC (outside of
the stakeholder survey or other interviews), please contact Ms Saeeda
Jaffery at PWC ([log in to unmask] or telephone 0207 804 9701).
If you have any queries about this evaluation or about equality policy
making at HEFCE more generally, please contact Fariba Dashtgard
([log in to unmask] or telephone 0117 9317316)
Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this project.
Policy Adviser, Equality and Diversity
Leadership Governance and Management
Higher Education Funding Council for England,
Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QD
tel 0117 931 7316 www.hefce.ac.uk