We are very pleased to announce that we have won the NUS Wales Diversity Award 2017. The award was presented to Cardiff University Students' Union at a ceremony that took place on Tuesday 14th March in Llandudno. We are committed to creating a diverse, inclusive environment for our students and staff, and are thrilled that this is being recognised. A copy of our award submission is below.
Strengthening our commitment to diversity and inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion are at the heart of what we do at Cardiff. Our organisational vision is clear: to work with every Cardiff student to enhance their University experience. This is underpinned by our values that recognise that we want to be excellent at what we do by being totally inclusive. We believe that to be truly representative we need all our students to have a stake in the Union’s success.
Read our strategic plan: Our Plan 2014-2017
For example, we saw that we needed to work with more post graduate students, create more engagement and inclusion opportunities for international students, get more women in leadership and representative positions and offer new activities with different ways of engaging to attract students who haven’t previously engaged with us.
We also recognised the need to better engage our staff in our diversity objectives and seek out future staff members that are passionate about diversity and inclusion. Our aim was to make sure that our staff knew where the Union stood on diversity issues and for Cardiff to be the first students’ union in Wales to be an accredited Investor in Diversity. More than 90% of staff say they know and support the Union’s vision and values and more than three quarters agree that the Union champions diversity and challenges discrimination. We now include valuing diversity as an essential requirement for job applicants and we are on track to achieve our Investors in Diversity aim before the end of the year.
We also chose to embed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion targets into our governance to ensure that all levels of the organisation have a role to play; we annually review our equality, diversity and inclusion policy, have a working group of staff to review our progress and produce an annual report against it.
Following a tense referendum on Welsh language representation in 2015 the Union has positively engaged Welsh speaking students to make the Union a genuinely bilingual organisation. We adopted a comprehensive Welsh Language Policy in 2016 and are supporting our students to establish an autonomous Welsh speakers representative body.
Read our new Welsh Language Policy
Some of the actions we have taken were planned in advance, some have come from our improving understanding of diversity and some have come from our students and staff responding to the cultural shift we’ve sought to create.
Our stand-out achievement has been in developing a major scheme of alcohol-free activities, specifically aimed at engaging more international students and student who prefer non-alcohol related activities. Although launched in 2015, we have seen an explosion of engagement in the past year with nearly 5,500 students taking part, of which more than a third come from outside the UK. We are proud to say that we now organise more alcohol-free events than licensed events and we expect this to become normal practice in future years.
Find out more about Give it a Go programme of activities
We have also sought to make diversity a part of all of our major existing events and activities. For example, with Welsh Varsity (in partnership with Swansea Students’ Union) we continue to work with Stonewall to get our students to wear Rainbow Laces when competing in their sports.
Find out more about our Welsh Varsity tournament
Representatively, we have made changes to make our leadership roles more inclusive and diverse. In the past year we created a mental health officer post and after a successful trial have made 50% of our Student Senate positions available to woman only. This has led to more women candidates in our elections and at present 7 of our 15 trustees are women.
Find out more about our Student Senate
In the past year we’ve also launched a series of student parent days to help build a student parent community. This came from seeing that student parents from our Healthcare School were less engaged and were unlikely to attend the other activities we support.
Find out more about our last Student Family Day
We also launched monthly post graduate research events and will be hosting our first ever ‘Recognising Research’ event to celebrate the achievements of our PGR students and build a peer network – a group of students who historically had seen the Students’ Union as ‘not for them’.
Find out more about our Recognising Research event
Seeing real changes
As a result of our changes we’ve seen big improvements in engaging minorities. Over the past two years, satisfaction has improved by 15% with BME students, 12% with EU students, 7% with international students, 7% with mature students and 7% with disabled students. We believe that this satisfaction reflects not only the diversified services we provide, but the values we embody and demonstrate to our members.
We’ve also harnessed the power of our student leaders and empowered them to become diversity champions. All ‘gold’ level student societies must adopt and promote a widening access policy to remove barriers to participation.
We’ve also taken action on issues that we hadn’t considered before. We noticed that many international students were using our building to relax and study in at the end of term times, so we extended our opening times over Christmas, including opening on Christmas day. The popularity of this extended opening means that we will continue this practice during the Easter break.
We have also shown leadership to our parent university on the matters important to our members. For example, after our ground floor refurbishment the Students’ Union building has gender neutral toilets and baby change facilities on all floors of our building. This, along with our lobbying led to gender neutral toilets being added to the University’s new student services building, despite reservations about its cost.
Over the last few years we have invested significant resources into our student engagement monitoring for the purpose of demonstrating impact. We realised that the engagement data could also be used to see how engagement is spread across demographic groups. For the first time this year, we have undertaken an equality impact assessment of each of our major activities and student service departments so they each have a diversity and widening participation plan in the future.
Find out more
The Guild of Societies Tier Structure
Widening Access Policies
Proud to support #RainbowLaces