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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Oriel: Our Work So Far

A view of Oriel College's Hall steps taken from above

A great deal of progress has been made over the course of this year, and the report published by the Commission of Inquiry in May has helped to provide a framework for delivering a range of new initiatives across the College. Here is a summary of what we’ve been doing, and what we plan for the near future.

Access and Outreach

  • Oriel has partnered with Generating Genius on the STEM@Oxford Uni Genius programme to support a cohort of thirty Black Heritage Year 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the run up to their university applications.
  • We have launched the Rex Nettleford Prize for Year-12 Students: Essays on Colonialism and its Legacies to encourage participants to engage with the topic of colonialism, and to develop their abilities for independent research and thought.
  • We ran a successful programme of Virtual Year 12 Study Days over the summer, for which priority was given to those from backgrounds currently underrepresented at Oxford.
  • We continue to collaborate with Target Oxbridge to support talented students of African and Caribbean heritage in their Oxbridge applications.

Scholarships and Research

  • Oriel has partnered with the university to offer a full postgraduate scholarship for a Black or Mixed-Black UK student as part of the Black Academic Futures programme.
  • The College is collaborating with the Yalda Hakim Foundation to offer a fully-funded scholarship to a female Masters student from Afghanistan, and is looking for ways to expand this work further.
  • The College has secured funding for a Graduate Law Scholarship for a Black British student for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • We have welcomed the first recipient of the David N. Lyon Scholarship in Politics: The Politics of Sex and Gender Equality in Diverse Societies. The scholarship, the first of its kind in the Politics department, aims to raise the profile of this important area of research.
  • We have recently launched an essay prize for Oxford undergraduates, the Rex Nettleford Prize for Undergraduate Students: Essays on Colonialism and its Legacies.
  • Plans are underway to hold the first Rex Nettleford Lecture (speaker and date to be confirmed) in Trinity Term 2022. The lecture will complement the two student prizes and will be on the topic of Colonialism and its Legacies.
  • We have appointed a new Turpin Junior Research Fellow in History whose research focuses on relations between extractive industries and their communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The 3-year post was advertised this year for those whose research covered: “Black History post 1800 (Black British History post 1800 or Black Atlantic or Caribbean post 1800 or Black African history post 1800)”.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

  • We appointed the Tutor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr David Maw, in June 2020. David is responsible for driving forward progress on EDI in College, listening to feedback to further improve Oriel’s provision in this area.
  • For the second year, we hosted a ‘Welfare Welcome’ for new Black undergraduate students in partnership with four other nearby colleges to give Freshers an opportunity to get to know one another.
  • An equalities session was held in Freshers’ Week in which students were encouraged to think about issues related to equality in all its different forms, and to understand how these issues can impact our whole community.
  • Work is about to begin on the development of a new College-wide EDI strategy.

Contextualisation of the Rhodes Memorials

  • The College erected a temporary information board on the High Street in October. The text on the board is designed to offer a counterpoint to the statue and inscription on the building, with a fuller account available via a link to the College’s website.
  • A taskforce is working on plans for more permanent contextualisation, the implementation of which will take some time to achieve as consultation with planning authorities will be needed, given the building’s listed status. Achieving a permanent contextualisation is a high priority for the College.

What Next?

We’re pleased to have made positive progress this year and we want to sustain this momentum. We are looking forward to delivering our EDI strategy, seeking out further opportunities to ensure that Oriel provides a welcoming environment for all applicants, students and staff, whatever their backgrounds.