Essex is one of ten universities in the Young University for the Future of Europe (YUFE) Alliance, working together with other partners to shape the future of European higher education by establishing a European University that's open to all.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are at the heart of YUFE’s vision for a cross-European educational landscape. Here Karen Bush, who is currently seconded from her substantive role as Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Essex, to lead YUFE’s D&I work package, explains more.

Developing an inclusive environment for all

As YUFE’s work develops, so is its focus on putting its D&I vision into action and we are proud to be leading that work here at Essex.

In recent years, we have implemented policies and practices that promote diversity and inclusivity. These policies underpin the University’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all – for which it has won recognition and awards. However, there is still much more to be done and this challenging work continues.

YUFE has set out an ambition that all its member institutions become leaders in diversity and inclusivity and work has already begun on how we instil diverse and inclusive thinking across all YUFE universities and associated partners.

We know that embedding this vision and putting D&I into YUFE’s DNA will be challenging, but we’re working together, having open and honest conversations to tackle difficult issues and we’re starting to make progress.

Already we have developed and delivered a series of workshops to introduce participants to the topic of equality, diversity and inclusion, and raise awareness of the impact that any form of discrimination has on individuals and groups of people.

We have developed the YUFE D&I strategy and devised a useful D&I checklist for all Alliance members to use, highlighting, for example, the need to use gender-sensitive language, and avoid stereotypes. There is also a glossary of terms - from ‘active bystander’ to ‘zero tolerance’ - all to ensure that the appropriate language is used across YUFE’s communications.

There is still lots of work to do but the commitment has been fantastic across all the YUFE institutions and I am realty excited about a number of major initiatives coming up in our D&I journey - from creating communities of good practice through more training and knowledge-sharing, to offering D&I grants and introducing diversity monitoring for our member organisations.

The short video below outlines what we have been doing to promote D&I within YUFE.