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: the religious and the educational. The two parts, Cathedral and College, are equal partners. Christ Church is an education provider, strongly committed to teaching and research and 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 equalities data and acts as a contact point for equality and diversity issues across the joint foundation of the College and Cathedral. 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’ 1.
Under the Equality Act 2010:
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;
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic1 and people who do not share it; and
- foster 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 2021/22 (01 October 2021 to 30 September 2022) and provides an update on progress towards its existing equality objectives in addition to key priorities for 2022/23.
Christ Church’s equality and diversity objective(s) agreed in Michaelmas Term 2021 for the period 2021/22 to 2024/25 was 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 modest backgrounds.
- To develop and further Christ Church’s access initiatives.
Christ Church has a number of equality objectives whose date for implementation fall outside the period covered by this report. Many of Christ Church’s next steps will therefore focus on progressing the implementation of these objectives during 2022/23.
Progress during 2021/22
- To continue to improve Christ Church’s provision for the support of students from modest 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 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.
Grants are available to students for books, study, travel, sports, the year abroad, and University language courses, and undergraduates with a household income of up to £43,000 are eligible to apply for summer bursaries to help them meet living costs while undertaking a summer internship, laboratory placement or academic course. 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. The Academic Office has published new webpages on financial support to increase visibility of the support available, and in 2022 appointed a 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.
Following the publication of dedicated Study Skills content on our website in 2021 we have established 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.
- To develop and further Christ Church’s access initiatives.
Christ Church’s access work focusses on our two link regions: the North East of England and the London borough of Barnet. We have established sustained contact programmes in both these regions (Christ Church Horizons in Barnet and Aim for Oxford in North East), where we meet regularly with a group of students selected on the basis of criteria of disadvantage and under-representation, as well as on academic potential. We also support pupils and schools from our link regions beyond the two programmes, offering sessions ranging from information, advice and guidance, to academic workshops in Oxford, in their schools, or online.
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, and the Brilliant Club. We have also further developed our partnership with The Brilliant Club, by collaborating 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.
In 2021-2022 we also extended our subject-specific initiatives. Building on our annual ‘Women in PPE’ event, in collaboration with the College’s tutors we set up two new access initiatives for students interested in Geography: a video competition for younger pupils and an essay project for year 12 pupils, which ended with a day in Christ Church in which they could discuss their essays in a tutorial-like setting. Furthermore, Christ Church’s Access Fellow set up a new sustained contact programme for students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups who have an interest in sciences: All About Mars.
There was a positive link between admissions results and our access efforts in the 2022 UCAS cycle (students who applied in 2021 for 2022 or 2023 entry). Applications to Christ Church from Barnet state schools were high (21, compared to 7 before we were working in the region in a sustained way) and applications from the North East continued to have a significant increase (20, compared to 4 before working in the region). We were delighted to have a record number of Christ Church offer holders who attended state schools in our link regions in the 2022 UCAS cycle: seven from Barnet and seven from the North East. Our specific programmes and initiatives continued to show results: in 2022 we had a Christ Church offer holder who had attended our sustained contact programme in the North East, an offer holder who attended the annual ‘Women in PPE’ day, and one who attended the ‘Changing Communities’ programme, set up by our former Postgraduate Access Fellow in 2020-2021. Four of our offer holders had also used the online chat platform we had set up during the pandemic, that allows them to get in touch with current student ambassadors. It was a remarkable year for the participants in our sustained contact programme in Barnet, ‘Christ Church Horizons’, with a record number of applications to Oxford (20), a record number of offers (ten), and an offer rate of 50% that is more than twice as high the average Oxford offer rate. Four of the ‘Horizons’ participants gained Christ Church offers.
Following on from one of the recommendations of Christ Church’s Diversity in Admissions Working Group set up the previous year, the College’s Governing Body determined measurable benchmarks with which to evaluate the outcomes of our admissions decisions in terms of how they impact on the representation (or under-representation) of certain groups in the College as a whole. In line with the University’s Access & Participation Plan, our long-term objective is for UK-domiciled members of the Christ Church student body to be representative of the population of students who achieve AAA+ in the UK, while our short-term goal is that our admissions outcomes should generally at least be in line with average ones in the University as a whole. We also monitor gaps in offer rates for candidates from specific groups, to assess how our applicant pool compares with the composition of our final cohort of students. The representation of the monitored groups compared to the GB approved benchmarks for the 2022 UCAS cycle is as follows:
While not all GB benchmarks were met in the 2022 UCAS cycle, progress has been made in reaching them, gaps in offer rates between monitored and complementary groups decreased, and we were closer to having a student cohort representative of the University cohort and of UK students who achieve AAA+ at A-level. It is also worth noting that Christ Church was in the middle 50% of Oxford colleges in terms of the representation of POLAR-flagged candidates, women, and state school candidates, and in the top quartile of colleges in terms of the representation of students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups and students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (‘ACORN flagged’).
We will continue to monitor and report on the representation of these groups, as well as on differences in success rates compared to complementary groups in future UCAS cycles, including an upcoming report on the 2023 UCAS cycle.
|Monitored group||Christ Church 2022 UCAS cycle (final 'accepts'1)||Short-term Cohort Benchmark Minimum (Oxford average 2022 UCAS cycle 'accepts')||Short-term Cohort Benchmark Minimum Met Y/N (2022 UCAS cycle)||Long-term Cohort Benchmark Minimum (UK students achieving AAA+)||Long-term Cohort Benchmark Minimum Met Y/N (2022 UCAS cycle 'accepts')|
|BME Students (UK)||38%||25%||Y||23%||Y|
|State school students (UK)||64%||68%||N||77%||N|
1 Students who accepted their offers
Further headlines and progress during 2021/22
Published Christ Church Diversity Calendar with list of events throughout the year.
- Continue to attract applicants from a black or minority ethnic background to apply for senior roles, including Governing Body, by reviewing recruitment processes. This objective remains ongoing. Where appropriate all standard job descriptions and adverts include positive action statements to encourage people from protected groups to apply for vacancies advertised. In addition, applicants who may have taken a career break or have had an atypical career are also encouraged to apply for positions.
- Continued to provide training to those involved in non-academic recruitment and selection (as required), and to recommend that - where appropriate - line managers undertake the online unconscious bias training programme provided by the University of Oxford.
- Continued to offer a hybrid working policy to help staff balance their work and home lives, in support of providing a positive work-life balance for employees, and helping to maintain a sustainable, diverse, and skilled workforce.
- Governing Body awarded staff a non-consolidated ‘Cost of Living’ payment in recognition of the impact of inflation and the cost of living crisis.
- Continued the Diversifying the Visual Environment Committee (comprising staff and student members). The 40th anniversary of women undergraduates matriculating at Christ Church in 1980-81 provided the impetus for the Working Group to Diversity the Visual Environment (chaired by Professor Geraldine Johnson) to commission thirteen large-scale photographic portraits of women with past and present links to the College. This was a key project in the ongoing process of creating a visual environment that better reflects Christ Church's vibrant and diverse community.
More than 200 women were nominated for the portraits. The selected sitters, who were from diverse backgrounds, included distinguished alumnae who have made contributions to many different fields, as well as members of academic and non-academic staff.
The portraits were completed during the Summer of 2022 by award-winning photographer John Davis and exhibited to the general public in the Chapter House before being put on long-term display in key locations throughout the College including the Hall, Ante-Hall, Library, Lodge, Lecture Room 1, McKenna Room, Lee Building, JCR, GCR, and SCR. The BBC reported very positively on the exhibition and project as a whole: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-63158432
A number of events took place during the exhibition, including receptions for students, staff and alumni. The Development Office supported these events, as well as a catalogue of the exhibition, which included excerpts from interviews with the sitters that will be deposited in the Archive, an important addition to the historical record of women's roles at Christ Church.
All the portraits can be found on the Christ Church website: Women of the House: Portraits of Christ Church. The project will also be included in Christ Church's 2022 Annual Report.
- Continued the Colonialism Working Group: The working group submitted a proposal to Academic and Finance Committee. The proposal, which was approved by Governing Body and set out the terms of a research project on the College's relationship to colonialism, included the recruitment of a 3-year Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PDRF). The terms of the PDRF are currently in the process of being drafted.
- Commissioned an Access Audit of External Areas: the repot 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. It also considered people with upper limb loss who require two handrails on steps and people with visual impairments. The intention of the report is that it will inform a potential programme of improvements, and subsequent review and report on internal areas. An Accessibility Working Group out of the Building Subcommittee has been set up to take this work forward.
- Continued to pay staff at, or above the Oxford Living Wage rate.
- Held a lunch for Menopause Awareness Day.
- The LGBTQ+ Progress flag was flown on Peck for Pride Month.
- Christ Church hosts ‘Sacred’, a monthly church service for LGBTQ+ people and allies.
- Christ Church takes seriously the requirement to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation. A Harassment Working Party was set up to review Christ Church’s student policy and procedure on Harassment. This group agreed a Harassment Flowchart.
- Christ Church is committed to ensuring all members are supported in their particular faith, and a document ‘Faith Provision for Students and Staff’ was created. This details special arrangements such as food provision and special events and services throughout the year.
- Hosted a number of dinners and social events to celebrate specific religious or national festivals.
- Offered ‘Safe Space’ sessions for Black students, led by the College Counsellor.
- Continued to produce a Student Handbook, and a dedicated Welfare Handbook which signposts students to relevant support networks (including those available through the central University).
- Students collectively took part in events organized for Black History Month. This included: Faith and Politics Lecture for Black History Month with Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick ‘How Heroes are Made: Race and the Battle for Transformation, Leadership and Change’.
- 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 JCR and GCR equality reps continued to host a broad range of social, supportive and educational opportunities for students.
1. The characteristics protected under the Act 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.