University of Warwick's Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft appointed as new chair

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) has recently appointed Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft as the new chair, replacing Warwick alumnus Professor Janet Beer in this position.

The ECU is the body for quality in higher and further education in the UK. It is a registered charity which works to ‘further and support equality and diversity in higher educational institutions across the UK’. The ECU also plays a part in the colleges of Scotland by supporting the construction of inclusive cultures within universities. Additionally, they strive to remove barriers towards progression, and the cessation of discriminatory practices.

Mr Croft said that it was a great privilege to take up this role, which championed commitment towards equality and diversity.

The ECU has been responsible for such achievements as the Athena SWAN charter (Scientific Women's Academic Network) which recently laid out their plan for 2017 – 2021. The vision of the charter is 'equality of opportunity and outcome in participation, progression and success for all staff and students alike'. This would be achieved by empowering, leading, promoting and strengthening.

Chief executive of the ECU David Ruebain commented on the appointment of Mr Croft, saying that he brought strong leadership, and a commitment to attaining equality and diversity, which in turn would help enhance the mission.

There are still signs that inequality exists in higher education, as shown recently. Last year at Warwick only 20.3% of BME (black & minority ethnic) students achieving a first-class degree, while 35.5% of white students achieved the degree.

Mr Croft said of his new appointment, that while he was privileged to take the position, there was still a lot of work to be done in this area. He was looking forward to working with the ECU and staff across the sector to forward the importance of the work which was set before them.

Professor Janet Beer, who is stepping down from the position, said that she had been proud and honoured to chair the board. She wished Mr Croft the very best in the next phase of the work.

The ECU, and the work which it does in higher education, is nationally and internationally recognised, and acknowledged as not only embodying good practice, but also innovation in the advancement of equality and diversity in the sector. The work is vitally important in moving the higher education sector towards a more diverse society.


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