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HEFCE urged to rethink ‘unequal’ REF panel

The membership of the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel for the next Research Excellence Framework is causing concern among staff responsible for equality and diversity in universities, although most are not prepared to speak openly.

Seven of the eight members in the panel are white. This has angered staff appointed by universities to implement equality and diversity policies. Research Fortnight has learned that many think the panel’s composition is sending the wrong message. They have also questioned why there are fewer members now than there were in the 2014 REF equality and diversity panel.

Members of the panel, announced on 23 May, were not recruited through an open process. Instead, they were nominated by the funding bodies for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. All 19 nominees were invited by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to complete an optional equality and diversity monitoring form. However, only two out of the 16 people who filled in the form were from minority backgrounds.

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