Race Equality Report 2005

6. Community links

Strengthening Community Links

The initiative began in January 2003 with the aim of strengthening Brookes’ community links and promoting a more diverse staff and student profile. Jon Snow the Chancellor of Oxford Brookes is an active supporter and champion of the diversity agenda and has taken a particular interest in the project, expressing the hope that the University will continue to prosper and grow, opening it’s doors to a wider cross section of the community.

The first network meetings identified progression pathways as an area where community links could be strengthened. Since then the University has developed a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging young people to engage with Oxford Brookes both as employees and as students. The initiatives have been developed as ‘Bridges’ into Brookes. These include a work experience scheme and free employment workshops for community groups/organisations/schools run by Brookes HR professionals focusing on employment skills.

OEREN

Oxford Brookes University plays a leading role in OEREN – The Oxfordshire Employers’ Race Equality Network. The network is a voluntary group of local public and private sector employers who work to support fellow organisations in their efforts to combat the issues of institutional racism and, by developing and sharing best practice, to become the employers of choice for all sections of the community. By joining OEREN, employers commit themselves to active participation, in particular working with community groups so that their perceptions, needs and concerns are addressed.

The University is currently actively involved with other members of OEREN in organising the ‘Positive Employers’ Awards’ (to be held on 17 th March 05). The nominations for these awards have been put forward by members of the Oxfordshire community and recognise companies and individuals in Oxfordshire who have made a particular contribution to promoting racial equality and diversity within their organisations.

Black History Month

In 2004 Oxford Brookes contributed to the organisation of Black History Month (BHM) in Oxford. Staff and students at the University;

  • Supported the organisation of the event by hosting many meetings and developing and producing the BHM calendar.
  • Funded and organised a poetry Slam evening.
  • Co hosted (with the Oxford Healthy Living Initiative) a 'food experience' evening that combined a talk on the history of African & Caribbean food with the opportunity to try some different Caribbean foods.
  • Helped organise BHM Oscar night (attended by approx. 150 members of the local community), held at the University.
  • Sponsored awards for BHM Oscar night.

The Oxford Community World Cup

Oxford Brookes sponsored awards at the first Oxford Community World Cup - a five-a-side football competition for local people representing thirty-two different nations.

Ethnic Minority Outreach Work (mentoring)

Since November 2003 Oxford Brookes University and Oxford and Cherwell FE College have jointly funded two ethnic minority outreach workers. Their role is to work with the local community in Oxford City, especially those who have become disengaged from education.

One outreach worker primarily works with the Asian community and in particular with people who originate from Bangladesh and Pakistan. The other works with young people with African and Caribbean heritage, including those from the West Indies, immigrants from Africa and black British students.

The outreach workers have been tasked with providing support and developing activities to raise the aspirations of these ethnic minority groups. Activities undertaken include establishing contacts and building relationships with the local communities and conducting focus groups with 2 nd and 3 rd generation ethnic minority students to monitor progress and progression pathways. Other work to date has included two out-of-school hours study support groups at Oxford Community School and Union Street Youth Services. These have focused mainly on young people studying at GCSE level and above. Students from the University have worked as mentors to raise aspirations and provide practical support to young people within the community.

Table one: planned initiatives in support of University's outreach work:
Events Target audience Distribution
Weekly homework groups (support and guidance from Brookes undergraduates) Future students, local community

Year 10 pupils from local target schools & FEIs (level 1)

  • Bangladeshi female groups
  • Bangladeshi mixed groups
  • Black mixed groups
Surma Project (web design workshop) Future students, local community Bangladeshi male pupils from local target schools & FEIs (level 1)
Future developments are likely to include the roll out of successful activities to wider groups within these communities.

Guaranteed Offer (GO Scheme

The GO scheme is available to all students from Oxfordshire state schools and further education colleges. Students who are likely to meet the entry requirements stated in the course pages of the Undergraduate prospectus will automatically receive a conditional offer.

In some cases admissions tutors can also guarantee conditional offers to applicants who don’t fully meet the criteria but where a reference/personal statement or previous attainment indicates they have the capability to succeed.

Other work to target under represented groups

Oxford Brookes continues to provide targeted events such as taster sessions and summer schools for both pre and post-16 pupils. The events are designed to raise aspirations of pupils to remain in education and give a ‘taste’ of subjects available to them. An increasing number of events are held year on year. Many schemes will be expanded in 2005

  1. Introduction
  2. Context of report
  3. The Equal Opportunities and Diversity Network
  4. Training and awareness raising
  5. Consultation and communication
  6. Community links
  7. Monitoring staff
  8. Monitoring students
  9. Next steps
  10. Summary
  11. Appendix: Progress against action plan
Equal opportunities and diversity