22 SES 14 D, Diversity of Staff and (PhD) Students
The inclusion of diversity in development policies and plans in higher education varies depending on the context or region of the world.
In North America, the mitigation of differences dates back the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As a result of this, programs were put in place seeking enforcement of these rights on universities campuses (Bell, 2012). In the European context, the European higher education policies included a social dimension following the initial developments of the European Higher Education Area in 1998, which called for collective access, placing an emphasis on groups that had been under-represented thus far (Biewer et al., 2015). For its part, in the Latin American continent, the indigenous movement and the boost of several socio-economic indicators at the start of the 21st century facilitated the incorporation of the indigenous culture in higher education institutions and the continuous pursuit for alternatives to achieve a higher calibre of education and the promotion of a fairer and more equal society (Ocampo, 2014).
Meanwhile, public policies in Asia have been focused on boosting economic growth through higher education, seeking the most exceptional students to this effect. That said, students from ethnic minorities or rural areas who suffer socio-economic hardships are under-represented, thus challenging higher education institutions to tackle the issue of equality (World Bank, 2012). The state of affairs is different in Oceania. In particular, Australian universities have traditionally demonstrated a firm commitment to equality on the basis of national policies (Smith, Trinidad and Larkin, 2015).Lastly,access to higher education in Africa is regarded as a privilege for few, thus reinforcing inequality in society with the exclusion of different students (Kochung, 2011).
Nor is there consensus at the institutional level. One of the greatest concerns is the approach taken by higher education institutions to conceptualise the term 'diversity', since it influences the type of actions that are taken. There are mainly two juxtaposing viewpoints:
- From the economic logic perspective, the term 'diversity' or 'diversity management' in higher education has been introduced from a commercial perspective based on the acknowledgement of difference or forms of representation, but without the implicit commitment to social justice (Archer, 2007). Diversity is seen as a benefit for the national economy in the sense that it trains traditionally excluded groups in certain professions to later boost national productivity and competitiveness (Mirza, 2003).
- From the framework of social justice, the term diversity is linked to the solid commitment of the institution to address inequalities. The aim is to focus on identifying the attributes that lead to discrimination within higher education institutions and, consequently, developing timely actions to secure a level playing field with other people (Ahmed 2007).
As a response to the different perspectives on diversity, there are higher education references in literature that propose criteria to facilitate internal assessment and help plan initiatives (AAC&U, 2015; Ferreira, Vidal & Vieira, 2014; Gause, Dennison & Perrin, 2010; May & Bridger, 2010; Michael, 2007;NERCHE, 2017). These include the addition of terminology to the mission or statement of the institution; the attribution of responsibility to someone who is a part of the senior management team; the creation of a formal body; the implementation of a strategic plan; integration across the organisational culture; the evaluation of progress and the adoption of improvement measures; the pairing with research agendas; specific initiatives linked to each one of the collectives comprising the university community; and the curriculum, training and innovation.
This study was conducted for the clear purpose of assessing the current institutionalization status of diversity outreach in 127 key universities from the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
A mixed method design was chosen, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. On the one hand, a rationalist approach was selected with the intention to empirically quantify the degree of institutionalization of diversity outreach through the perception of diversity outreach managers in higher education institutions in relation to a series of indicators, as well as the presence and main characteristics of these indicators in the information published on the websites of the selected universities. On the other hand, a qualitative analysis of the institutional statements, the goals sought through strategic plans and the definitions of diversity itself was also conducted. The necessary sample size was set using population data contained in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Stratified sampling with probability proportional to size was carried out with help from the complex samples option on the SPSS (v22) software. The stratification criteria used included the section or range in which the university was placed in the ranking of the top 500 (1-100, 101-150, 151-200, 201-300, 301-400, 401-500), the type of ownership (public and private) and the world regions (North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania). On these basis, the sample included 127 universities, which were considered representative of the population of 500 universities (95% confidence level and 7.5% margin of error). Two tools, one interactive and another non-interactive, were used to log the information on the institutionalization indicators of diversity outreach: 1. e-Rubric to Evaluate the Institutionalization of Diversity Outreach in Higher Education, targeting 78 diversity outreach managers identified on the university websites. It was made up of 24 institutionalisation criteria which were drawn up from literature and grouped into 4 facets: 2 general (philosophy and institutional policy, and institutionalisation strategies aimed at the university community) and 2 specific (institutionalisation strategies aimed at teaching and research staff, and institutionalisation strategies aimed at administrative managers within the institution). Three levels (absence, in process, and consolidation)were established in the institutionalisation process. 2. Log form of Institutionalization Indicators of Diversity Outreach in Higher Education. It is applied to the content analysis of the websites for the formal diversity outreach bodies in the selected universities. The information obtained was analyzed with SPSS v.22 and MAXQDA 12, respectively.
The evidence revealed the early stage of the institutionalisation process in universities on account of the low percentage obtained for the proposed indicators. Furthermore, the study failed to exhibit significant differences in this process in terms of the institutional ownership or position held in the ranking; however, more prominent progress was noted in the North-American region when geographical differences were taken into account, likely as a result of the historical background in the advocacy for equal opportunities. In general terms, higher education institutions stipulate in their institutional statements and the goals of their strategic diversity outreach plans that one of the main aims is to increase the features of diversity in the demographic composition of the institution. Furthermore, this aim is connected to the language used in the definitions of diversity. The term is defined as a representation of differences. Thus, an economic approach to the conceptualization prevails, which acknowledges the differences or types of representation and attempts to boost the heterogeneity of the university community without making a social commitment to the inequalities. Meanwhile, the presence of a formal centralised body that coordinates diversity outreach endeavors in half of the higher education institutions has helped promote advocacy and awareness-raising actions develop educational activities and, particularly, support programs and initiatives aimed at different groups of the university community. These would be the three most positive conclusions, which are linked to the main lines of action outlined in the goals of the strategic plans. However, the institutions must continue to make progress on institutional research and evaluation processes, as well as on mechanisms that display the progress in order to make decisions based on objective data. They should also collaborate with external social bodies that foster the enrichment and mutual recognition of the best practices developed in diversity outreach.
AAC&U. (2015). Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence. A campus guide for self-study and planning. Washington: AAC&U. Ahmed, S. (2007).‘You end up doing the document rather than doing the doing’: Diversity, race equality and the politics of documentation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(4), 590–609. Archer, L. (2007). Diversity, equality and higher education: a critical reflection on the ab/uses of equity discourse within widening participation. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(5-6), 635-653. Bell, M. (2012). Diversity in Organizations. US: South Western Educational Publishing. Biewer, G., Buchner, T., Káňová, Š., Rodríguez, S., Shevlin, M., Smyth, F., Šiška, J., Toboso-Martin, M.,& Vázquez, M.Á. (2015). Pathways to inclusion in European higher education systems European Journal of Disability Research, 9(4), 278-289. Ferreira, C., Vidal, J.,& Vieira, M. J. (2014). Student Guidance and Attention to Diversity in the Processes of Quality Assurance in Higher Education. European Journal of Education, 49(4). Gause, C. P., Dennison, S.,& Perrin, D. H. (2010). Equity, Inclusiveness, and Diversifying the Faculty: Transforming the University in the 21st Century. Quest, 62(1), 61-75. Kochung, E. (2011). Role of Higher Education in Promoting Inclusive Education: Kenyan Perspective. Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies, 2(3), 144-149. May, H.,& Bridger, K. (2010). Developing and embedding inclusive policy and practice in higher education. York: The Higher Education Academy. Michael, S. (2007). Toward a diversity-competent institution.https://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/diversity/docs/Toward_a_Diversity-Competent_Institution.pdfAccessed 3Agoust 2017. Mirza, H.S. (2003). Keynote address for the launch of Multiverse. London: Institute of Educación NERCHE. (2017). Self-Assessment Rubric for the Institutionalization of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education.Boston: NERCHE. Retrieved from http://nerche.org/images/stories/projects/Institutional_Diversity_Rubric/NERCHE_PI_Rubric_Self-Assessment_2017.pdf Ocampo, A. (2014). Los desafíos de la «inclusión» en la educación superior latinoamericana en el siglo XXI. Docencia, investigación e innovación, 3(2), 65-85. Smith, J.A., Trinidad, S.,& Larkin, S. (2015). Participation in higher education in Australia among under-represented groups: What can we learn from the Higher Education Participation Program to better support Indigenous learners? Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 17, 12-29. World Bank. (2012). Putting Higher Education to Work – Skills and Research for Growth in East Asia. Washington: The World Bank.
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