Buckinghamshire New University is supporting National Inclusion Week, with Inclusive Employers, highlighting the key role the University is playing in developing enhanced opportunities for Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater (GTRSB) communities to enter Higher Education.
Margaret Greenfields, Professor of Social Policy and Community Engagement, is speaking at a panel event during the week-long programme of activity from 28 September - 4 October, celebrating inclusion in all forms, with a theme of Each One, Reach One.
Prof Greenfields will be part of a panel on Wednesday 30 September, on Roma Access to Higher Education, where as part of her discussion she will speak about steps Bucks New University has taken to widen participation of GTRSB communities in HE. Margaret speaks from approximately 1hr 4mins on the panel debate, here.
Prof Greenfields said: "I'm absolutely delighted to have been invited to take part in this important National Inclusion Week programme of activities with a focus on 'Strengthening Roma Inclusion in the UK and Europe'.
"The opportunity to take part of the panel on Access to Higher Education creates scope to further explore with colleagues and Roma participants how best we can collectively work as academics, community members and NGOs, to provide tailored support and guidance for Roma students and their families.
"We will do this through engaging universities to deliver high quality opportunities which enable more GTR community members to enter higher education."
Bucks New University's work includes coordinating the collaborative development of a ‘good practice pledge’ for universities to sign up to, which is aimed at supporting access to higher education and recognition within universities, for members of the communities.
The pledge, developed with input from academics, graduate and student community members, NGOs and educational policy organisations, is supported by Baroness Whitaker, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma and President of Friends, Families and Travellers.
Baroness Whitaker will be delivering a welcome address on the first day of National Inclusion Week, outlining the importance of inclusive policies and an action plan for 'Strengthening Roma inclusion in the UK and Europe'.
In 2019, nearly 1,500 organisations took part in National Inclusion Week through internal events and activities covering a wide range of workplace inclusion topics, as well as webinars and daily challenges from Inclusive Employers.
This year, the week also features a flagship celebration of the organisations participating in the Inclusive Employers Standard, an accreditation tool from Inclusive Employers which recognises organisations’ commitment to creating more inclusive workplaces. More information about National Inclusion Week and how to get involved is available on its website.
Later this year, Bucks New University will continue its work highlighting the importance of creating opportunities for GTRSB communities to enter Higher Education when a colleague takes part in a Westminster Higher Education Forum policy conference on 'Addressing racial discrimination and improving the ethnic minority experience in Higher Education' on 30 November.
Sherrie Smith, Research Assistant on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Engagement, and a member of the Romani Gypsy community, will be part of a panel on 'Improving racial equality within HE - the curriculum, research funding, recruitment training, and addressing the attainment and pay gap'.
Sherrie will join Dr Zainab Khan, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Outcomes and Inclusion, at London Metropolitan University; Ellie Mulcahy, Head of Research at The Centre for Education and Youth; and Howard Chae, BME Officer at University of Cambridge Students’ Union.
Prof Greenfields added: "It is vitally important that Bucks New University and our network of collaborators and partners, continue to support and have our voice heard at these influential engagement events as we continue our commitment to influencing and shaping inclusive education policy and positive change for the benefit of GTRSB communities."
Thanks to its collaborative work to widen participation in to Higher Education among Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen and Boaters, Bucks New University and its partners have been shortlisted for Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year in the THE Awards 2020.
These partners include non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - Friends; Families and Travellers; the Traveller Movement; Advisory Committee for the Education of Romany Travellers; Dr Graeme Atherton (NEON); and Coventry University.
The awards are widely known as the Oscars of higher education, highlighting and championing the very best of the talent and creativity that shines out from’ the UK’s universities, and take place virtually on 26 November.
The shortlisting is in recognition of collaborative work to widen participation in higher education among Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen and Boaters led by Prof Braisby, Prof Greenfields, Sherrie Smith, and colleagues across the University in partnership with the stakeholders.
In June, Bucks New University marked Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month (GRTHM), celebrating the varied and valued contributions the communities make to British society, as part of its commitment to encourage members of these communities to participate in HE.
The University also hosted an online exhibition of work by Dr Daniel Baker, a Romani Gypsy who is an artist, curator and theorist, as well as a debate, hosted by Vice-Chancellor, Prof Braisby, exploring performance, identity, prejudice and representations of GTR communities. Dr Baker and professional dancer, choreographer, Roma scholar, and Flamenco historian Rosa Cisneros PhD, from Coventry University, took part in the debate, which was viewed by a large and diverse audience.
To increase its support, for the 2020 / 21 academic year, Bucks New University has introduced a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen and Boater (GRTSB) Student Bursary.
Members of the GRTSB community can benefit from £1,000 each year to support them during their studies (pro rata for those studying part-time).
In addition to the bursary, the University offers accommodation all year round, assistance with university applications, and a mentor throughout a student's studies.See more details and how to apply, here.
Picture caption: Prof Margaret Greenfields.(image by Mary Humphrey)