Right of Reply: Baroness Warwick

The chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals responds to the Education supplement article on difficulties faced by ethnic minority academics

CONTRARY TO the implications in your article, the record of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) over the last five years shows we have been active in seeking to promote racial equality on Britain's campuses.

CVCP was one of the organisations that jointly commissioned the Policy Studies Institute's report on ethnic minority academics. We did so through the Commission on University Career Opportunity (CUCO), which assists higher education institutions to achieve a balanced workforce. CUCO has disseminated examples of good practice across the sector, and provided it with clear action points.

To that end, CUCO has produced a series of guides on implementing equal opportunities that cover recruitment and selection, flexible working, childcare, equality targets action plans, and monitoring. It has disseminated examples of good practice and provided clear action points. We also regularly survey the sector, including a study of the composition of senior staff in institutions. With CUCO's encouragement, many institutions have made progress, with all having an equal opportunities policy. Some campuses, Manchester among them, have made equal opportunities training compulsory for all staff involved in recruitment; implemented diversity practices in their recruitment - for example, circulating the job vacancy bulletin among 40 community organisations; and taken the issue into the heart of the curriculum.

Middlesex University has appointed a professor in racial equality studies. The sector's task now is to attract and retain the brightest people from all sectors of society, and reap the benefits. We do recognise the imperative of this following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

A CVCP and SCOP (Standing Conference of Principals) strategy to help that along is being discussed this month. I strongly feel that the most effective way to achieve progress is through the partnership that we have been building with the unions and the Commission on Racial Equality.

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