Learnings from the U!REKA world café on diversity

27 Aug 2021 11:42 | Communication

In May 2021, the U!REKA network organised its first World Café on Diversity to discuss the current status of diversity and inclusion issues at our universities of applied sciences. Over 25 participants joined the online event and shared insights from their institutions.

Students, lecturers, researchers and administrators from different U!REKA partner institutions met online and started a dialogue on diversity, equality and inclusion in the U!REKA network. In lively group discussions they examined the topic from four different angles: 1) existing measures to ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment, 2) representation of diversity topics in the curricula, 3) application of research results on diversity and inclusion at the universities and 4) the possible impact of the universities in their cities and regions.

The conclusion of this discussion is to call for further action. While there are already many good strategies in place to promote diversity and inclusion, participants decided to strengthen and expand the existing measures.

Sharing best practices and promoting visibility

Everyone agreed that to make an impact, the diversity and equality issues need to gain more visibility. The participants discussed possible strategies to increase attention for the issue: To promote diversity awareness, each U!REKA partner will share their best practices and adopt new approaches, that have been successful at the partner universities.

Apart from that, it is important to include students in the ongoing debate. This way their status group can gain more visibility. Furthermore it gives them the chance to contribute their own opinions and initiate a bottom-up movement to foster recognition and understanding among students and university staff.

Equality and inclusion will also be included into the programme of existing formats like U!REKA debates and other online events more often.

Taking a stand

As a network of European higher education institutions, U!REKA supports democratic values and human rights. Therefore we feel obligated to increase our efforts in promoting gender equality, inclusion and diversity in research and education. As European citizens, we take a stand against discrimination and advocate for a fairer and more equal reality for everyone.

What’s next?

The World Café on Diversity kicked off an interest group for diversity within the U!REKA nework. The organisers are Kathleen Van Heule (HOGENT) and Vera Jost (Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences), who will plan monthly meetings starting in August to continue the exchange and discuss further action.