EUA organised a focus group on “Universities’ Strategies and Practices towards Diversity and Inclusiveness” on 24 November 2017. The event was hosted by the University of Lille - Human and Social Sciences in Lille, France.
As our societies change and become more diverse, universities are asked to be more open and inclusive, finding new ways to enable everyone who wants to participate, including students or staff who are traditionally less represented. This imperative for broader participation has been made more urgent by the influx of refugees over the past couple of years, which has prompted institutions across Europe to establish targeted initiatives for integration.
These developments are triggering discussions on the social responsibility of universities. They raise a number of strategic and practical questions about how institutions can deal with issues of diversity, inclusion, equity and access – questions that need to be addressed differently depending on the national and cultural context. Possible responses include the introduction of institutional strategies for diversity management, policies for equal opportunities, social innovation or widening participation of underrepresented groups, for example those with a lower socio-economic background or ethnic minorities. Responses can be focused on outreach, access and student retention, but may also cover staffing policies.
EUA invited practitioners from across Europe with experience in developing and implementing institution-level strategies and practices in the areas of diversity management, social innovation and widening participation to exchange and share their views with us.
The purpose of the focus group was to explore how universities are dealing with issues of diversity and inclusiveness, and to provide a forum for peer learning and sharing of good practices. The outcomes of the discussion were also used to feed into further development of EUA policies and activities with members.
The focus group, held in English, was a one-day event. Interactive round tables were intended to create an open exchange. Participants received key questions in advance and should be prepared to contribute actively to the discussions.