Annual Report of the Equality & Diversity Committee 2022–23


Christ Church is one of the largest colleges of Oxford University, and sits alongside 39 other independent, self-governing colleges within the wider collegiate University. The House, as it is also known, is a unique institution, being one foundation with two functions: religious and educational. The two parts, Cathedral and College, are equal partners. Christ Church is an education provider strongly committed to teaching and research, as well as a Cathedral committed to the furtherance of religion. Christ Church is also an employer committed to providing policies that are fair, equitable and consistent with the skills and abilities of its staff.

Christ Church’s Equality & Diversity Working Group was formed in 2017 and became a committee reporting directly to the Governing Body of Christ Church in Trinity Term 2018. The Committee meets termly, and its membership is drawn from all constituencies of Christ Church, including staff (academic and non-academic, representing the College and Cathedral) and students. It has established a regular cycle for monitoring equality data and acts, and as a contact point for the discussion of equality and diversity issues across the joint foundation. The Committee’s remit includes socio-economic background and mental health in addition to the characteristics protected under the Equality Act (2010).

The committee considers the impact its work has on its communities and pays due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Whilst the College often closely follows (and works with) the policies and practices of the central University, it nonetheless sets its own equality objectives in line with its own local priorities.

Christ Church wishes to create a culture of acceptance, inclusion and belonging, where individual differences are celebrated.

Our approach to equality and diversity is outlined in more detail in our separate Equality Policy.

Public Sector Equality Duty

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination in employment or the provision of training and education in respect of a number of ‘protected characteristics’. These are: age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race (including ethnic origin and nationality); religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. Marriage and civil partnership are also protected in respect of employment only.

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is a duty requiring public bodies and others carrying out public functions to have due regard to:

  • eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010;
  • advancing equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and
  • fostering good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

In addition, the Act introduced a number of specific duties which require the College (as a public sector institution) to:

  • Annually publish information to demonstrate our compliance with the General Equality Duty.
  • Publish objectives setting out how we will meet the requirements of the Act, at least every four years; and
  • Ensure the published information and objectives are made available to the public.

This report provides a review of Christ Church’s activities in support of equality and diversity during the academic year 2022/23 (01 October 2022 to 30 September 2023) and provides an update on progress towards its existing equality objectives in addition to key priorities for 2023/24.

Equality objectives

Christ Church’s equality and diversity objective(s) agreed in Michaelmas Term 2021 for the period 2021/22 to 2024/25 were as follows:

  • To develop an institutional equality, diversity and inclusion strategy and action plan;
  • To improve Christ Church’s arrangements for the collection and analysis of Equal opportunities data from students, staff and applicants. Including key data relating to the recruitment of academic and non-academic staff within Christ Church during the academic year, and (where appropriate) also provides relevant statistics and commentary concerning the demographics of the College’s current workforce;
  • To source appropriate staff training to improve awareness of, and engagement with, issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion;
  • Continue to extend and promote the work the Equality and Diversity Committee is undertaking in terms of initiatives, events, policy reviews and communications that address the needs of the diverse Christ Church community.

Further ongoing equality and diversity objectives include:

  • To attract those from a black or minority ethnic background to apply for senior roles, including Governing Body, by reviewing recruitment processes, job description processes, and advertising practices.
  • To continue to improve Christ Church’s provision for the support of students from financially less advantaged backgrounds.
  • To develop and further Christ Church’s access initiatives.

Progress during 2022–23

  1. Support for students from socio-economically less advantaged backgrounds

    We continue to work on Christ Church’s provision for the support of students from socio-economically less advantaged backgrounds.

    Since 2017, Christ Church has offered a 50% maintenance subsidy to UK undergraduates with a household income of £16,000 or less, and a 25% subsidy to those with a household income of £42,875 or less. From Michaelmas 2022, the upper threshold for eligibility for a 50% maintenance subsidy was increased to £27,500 in line with changes to Moritz Heyman Scholarships, increasing our support for students in this bracket. A further change, to both thresholds, was approved for the following year (2023-24), when undergraduates with household incomes of £32,500 or less will normally receive a 50% subsidy on accommodation while undergraduates with household income above £32,500 and below £50,000 will normally receive a 25% subsidy on accommodation. 

    Grants are available to students for books, study, travel, sports, the year abroad, and University language courses. In addition, undergraduates whose household incomes are below a certain level are eligible to apply for summer bursaries to help them meet living costs while undertaking a summer internship, laboratory placement or academic course; this level was raised from £43,000 to £50,000 in 2022-23. Christ Church has signed the University’s Standalone Pledge to provide support for estranged students. The College has generous financial assistance funds for which all enrolled students are eligible to apply. There is detailed information on financial support on the outward-facing webpage and forms for applications on the intranet. The Academic Office has a dedicated Student Funding & Support Officer whose remit includes supporting students with financial assistance applications as well as bolstering support and improving visibility for the other forms of financial support available.

  2. Academic Study Skills Support

    We maintained a comprehensive Study Skills Support programme led by our Access Fellow and supported by four part-time Academic Skills Advisors. All undergraduate students are encouraged to engage with our varied programme of support including sessions on essay writing, time management and revision. This programme was established in Michaelmas 2022 in response to student feedback and increased support needs following pandemic disruption to education. 
  3. Access & Admissions

    Christ Church’s access work focusses on our two link regions: the North East of England and the London borough of Barnet. As well as giving information, advice, and guidance sessions in the regions and welcoming schools to Christ Church, we offer sustained contact programmes in both Barnet and the North East (Christ Church Horizons and Aim for Oxford).

    Christ Church Horizons
    The programme starts in Year 10, when pupils come to Christ Church to explore science or humanities subjects through a series of short academic tasters. The aims in Year 10 are to increase knowledge of the benefits of higher education, to raise awareness of the breadth of university courses and where they lead post-university, and to help pupils make informed future choices. In 2023 we offered five ‘Exploring Humanities’ events and four ‘Exploring Sciences’ events. Nearly 200 state-educated pupils from Barnet came to Christ Church between April and June.

    The Year 12 strand of the programme consists of after-school sessions in Barnet, followed by a graduation day in Christ Church. We aim to support students in exploring beyond the curriculum and in developing key skills required to make competitive applications to university and to Oxford. 43 students who were selected based on academic potential, as well as contextual information, took part in the programme. The participants engaged in after-school discussions with Oxford academics through a series of workshops, on topics in the humanities, sciences and social sciences, as well as taking part in information, advice, and guidance sessions, and celebrated completing the programme with a ‘graduation day’ in Christ Church.

    At the end of Year 12 state school pupils from Barnet who were considering applying to Oxford were invited to attend online workshops on admissions tests (offered in collaboration with Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge) and at the beginning of Year 13 online interview workshops in subject-specific groups.

    Aim for Oxford is our programme for sixth-formers in the North East of England. The participants explore subjects with university researchers, experience academic and social life at Oxford University during a summer school, receive expert advice on how to apply, and are supported throughout the application process. 61 students took part in the programme in 2023. The 2023 cohort met a wide range of widening participation criteria, for example: 62.5% eligibility for Free School Meals, 86% first-generation students, 11% Young Carers, 48% from postcodes in ACORN categories 4-6, and 61% from postcodes in POLAR quintiles 1-2.

    Beyond Aim for Oxford, in 2023 we offered two further residential visits to Oxford for Year 12 pupils: a spring residential for pupils who had narrowly missed out on a place on the programme (66 participants came to Christ Church) and, in collaboration with the other ‘Oxford for North East’ colleges, a pre-open day residential for over 100 pupils from state schools in the North East of England.

    As well as working in our link regions, we continued our collaboration with charities and organisations that have similar aims, such as IntoUniversity, Target Oxbridge, DebateMate, Oxford’s Sikh Society, and the Brilliant Club. After a pilot year in 2021-2022, we solidified our collaboration with The Brilliant Club on a ‘Scholars’ Programme’ for Key Stage 3 pupils from the North East, who came to the ‘Oxford for North East’ colleges (Christ Church, St Anne’s College, Trinity College) in the spring. The Brilliant Club Scholars’ Programme offers up to 14 places per school, and at least 55% of the students selected by the school must meet one of their widening participation eligibility criteria. Christ Church hosted two schools from County Durham and one from South Tyneside, totalling 42 students in Years 9 and 10 and 6 teachers.

    In 2022-2023 we also extended our subject-specific initiatives. 
    We piloted Ready Set Code, a sustained engagement programme for Black and Mixed-Black women run in collaboration with Oxford’s Computer Science Department (the programme has since been renamed Discover Computer Science). It consisted of three online sessions, combining theory with interactive exploration, with an in-person graduation day in Oxford for the participants and their parents or carers. 28 Year 11 pupils from state schools in the UK took part in the programme.  

    Building on our annual Women in PPE event (43 participants in 2023), we offered two further subject-specific events: a Geography Study Day (28 participants) and a Modern Languages taster day (30 students), with all participants selected using contextual information.

    There was a positive link between admissions results and our access efforts in the 2023 UCAS cycle (students who applied in 2022 for 2023 entry). We were delighted to have nine offer holders who attended state schools in our link regions at Christ Church (seven from Barnet and two from the North East). Six Aim for Oxford students gained Oxford offers. Our Christ Church Horizons students from Barnet also had a remarkable year, with nine participants becoming Oxford offer holders, including three at Christ Church. Our subject-specific initiatives also led to many positive outcomes: six students who attended Women in PPE received Oxford offers (including one at Christ Church); four students who took part in our Geography initiatives gained Oxford offers (two of which at Christ Church); three Oxford offer holders attended All About Mars (our 2021-2022 programme for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students interested in sciences). The College also continued its commitment to Oxford’s Opportunity Oxford bridging programme, with 16 Opportunity Oxford offers in the 2023 UCAS cycle.

    Overall, in the 2023 UCAS cycle the number of applications to Christ Church from UK-domiciled women, state school candidates, and candidates who were among the most disadvantaged for their courses all increased.  

    Christ Church was among the colleges with the highest proportion of female students admitted (regardless of domicile) and above the Oxford average in terms of UK female students admitted (54.5% of Christ Church’s UK offer holders were women1 ).

    School type
    Christ Church was above the university average in terms of the proportion of UK state-educated students admitted (70% of Christ Church’s UK students admitted attended state schools).

    44% of the UK students admitted to Christ Church were among the most disadvantaged applicants for their courses (based on contextual information on their schools, neighbourhoods, and personal circumstances e.g. eligibility for free school meals, care status etc. – for more information), above the University average of 39%.

    While ethnicity data are not yet available for the 2023 cycle, in recent admissions cycles (intakes from 2020 to 2022) Christ Church has been the Oxford college with the highest proportion of admitted UK students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Groups.

  4. The Diversifying the Visual Environment Committee

    This committee (comprising staff and student members) continued its work. The Women of the House: Portraits of Christ Church project, which was undertaken in the Summer of 2022 and resulted in a catalogue and temporary exhibition in the Chapter House (see coverage by the BBC), continues to have a positive impact and has made an important contribution to diversifying Christ Church's visual environment. The twelve of the thirteen commissioned large-scale photographic portraits of women alumnae and members of staff from across the institution were installed in their permanent positions at the end of 2022 in key locations around Christ Church, including in the Hall and Ante-Hall, Porters' Lodge (two portraits), Library (two portraits), JCR, GCR, Lee Building, SCR, McKenna Room, and Lecture Room 2. For visa reasons, there were delays in taking one last sitter's portrait, which will be completed later.  but it was finally completed in early 2024 and will soon be installed as a third portrait in the Library. New projects to further diversify the visual environment of Christ Church will hopefully be undertaken in the near future, possibly beginning with the Law Library, though other sites may also be considered.
  5. The Four College Equality & Diversity Fund

    Christ Church continues to work with a consortium of colleges to maintain a joint fund to which students may apply for grants to host events that promote equality and diversity across the four colleges. The Four College Equality & Diversity fund paid for a Merton Street colleges event for welcoming black freshers across the four colleges. It also supported a lecture series aimed at promoting the voices of ethnic minorities in the four colleges and educating college members about equality and diversity issues. The first lecture, ‘Environmental Justice as a Theological and Moral Imperative,’ delivered by Dr Harold Dorrell Briscoe, took place on 10th May. The Fund also supported a ‘South Asian Mixer’: a night of authentic South Asian food and entertainment which took place in the JCR at Christ Church on 13th May 2023, with very good take-up.

  6. ‘Safe Spaces’ for discussion about race-related issues

    In 2022-23 the college Counsellor trialled a new initiative to create ‘race safe spaces’ in which students were invited to engage in a dialogue about race-related issues affecting students.

  7. The Colonialism Working Group 

    Approval was gained from Governing Body for the appointment of a 3-year Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PDRF) to look at the legacies of colonialism and began to draft the terms of reference for that post, to be advertised in 2023-24. 

  8. Accessible Communications

    The Communications Team introduced new branding guidelines for Christ Church, including the adoption of two sans serif fonts, Montserrat and Rework, for all official communications.

  9. Accessibility Audit and Building Works

    In 2021-22 Christ Church commissioned an Access Audit of External Areas which considered disabled access for all groups of people who study, work, visit and worship at Christ Church. The study focused on physical access barriers for wheelchair users, people with ambulant disabilities, limited walking ability and standing stamina and visual impairments. The intention of the report was to inform a potential programme of improvements and subsequently review and report on internal areas. 

    Following this report, a phased programme of internal audits is underway and this has been completed for the Cathedral, Tom Staircases 5,6,7 including the Porters’ lodge and GCR/JCR, Great Hall and environs, Meadow Staircases 1-7, Blue Boar Staircases 1-4 including the Lecture Theatre and Exhibition Space,  Killcanon, and Christ Church Cathedral School.  Inspections have also been carried out on the Visitor Centre, Tom Staircases 1-4  and the Kitchens, Staff dining area and SCR  with reports awaited.

    As a result of the audit the Foundation Architect, Ptolemy Dean was commissioned to devise a wheelchair accessible route from the Broad Walk to Tom Quad and design access ramps for the Cathedral Chapter House and Cloister, all of which are currently under consideration.  The Governing Body through the Building Subcommittee has approved the installation of a lift and accessible toilet and ancillary facilities in both the Lee building and Tom 7 (JCR/GCR) which will be carried out during the summer of 2024. The route to the accessible study bedrooms in Blue Boar Staircase 3 have been improved by automating the main entrance and room doors.

A number of events were held during the year 2022-23:

  • We held a welcome event for Black Freshers in Freshers’ Week 2022
  • A Faith and Politics Lecture was held for Black History Month in Michaelmas term 2022. The speaker was Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick, on ‘How Heroes are Made: Race and the Battle for Transformation, Leadership and Change’.
  •  Sacred, a monthly service for LGBTQ+ people and allies, was held in the Cathedral.
  •  Menopause Awareness Day was marked by lunch for staff
  • Trans Day of Remembrance
  • It was decided to mark UK Disability History month with a blog by students (in the end the first blog appeared in November 2023)
  • We hosted a number of dinners and social events to celebrate specific religious or national festivals, including the Diwali dinner.
  • The JCR and GCR equality reps continued to host a broad range of social, supportive and educational opportunities for students.
  • The Progress flag was flown on the main flagpole for Pride Month, while the following flags were flown in Peckwater Quad to mark the relevant occasions: Black History Month, Transgender Week and Remembrance Day; Suffragette Day, Women’s Day.
  • On 18 June 2023, the Cathedral marked the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMS Windrush, hosting the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev Howard Gregory, who preached at the 11am Eucharist. This was part of a longer visit to the Diocese of Oxford to meet members of the Windrush generation and their descendants, and also as part of a delegation of Caribbean bishops hosted by the Church of England for the celebrations and for discussions about historic reparations. Abp Howard stayed at Christ Church through the week.
  • In September 2023, a racial justice conference was held at the cathedral for young leaders in the Church of England. To mark the end of the conference, the Church of England’s Racial Justice Director, the Revd Guy Hewitt, preached at the 11am Eucharist. He was formerly Barbados’s High Commissioner to the UK. 

Annual Reporting: Gender pay gap

Christ Church’s latest gender pay gap report can be found here.


[1] The only data available are the female/male options from UCAS applications, but this binary distinction may not reflect the gender identity of all applicants.