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Building on this past work, in September 2013 HEFCE brought together the agencies representing the sector’s leadership and governance [Note 1], for a summit on diversity in higher education leadership and governance. The summit provided an opportunity for the partners to maximise the synergies between agencies to create shared, powerful, efficient and effective support for the sector.

Equality Challenge Unit, on behalf of the summit partners, commissioned consultants Schneider-Ross to understand why some senior leaders champion equality and diversity, and the evidenced institutional benefits of their approach. ‘The rationale for equality and diversity: How vice-chancellors and principals are leading change’ was launched at the Committee of University Chairs’ autumn plenary on 16 October 2014.

The key findings were that participants considered equality and diversity critical to the success and mission of their institutions. They articulated and evidenced the benefits of this approach to staff, students and society at large. As Professor Chris Brink of Newcastle University states in the study, ‘We value diversity because we are committed to excellence.’

The report provides examples of what vice-chancellors and principals have done to lead change, what institutions describe as their ‘key drivers’, and what impact these have, both on their general performance and on some specific equality and diversity outcomes. The findings support HEFCE’s view that equality and diversity are essential in creating and sustaining the conditions for a world-leading system of higher education which transforms lives, strengthens the economy, and enriches society.

We welcome the research findings, and will be working with the summit partners to progress the recommendations contained in the report.


  1. The Committee of University Chairs, the Equality Challenge Unit, GuildHE, HEFCE, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association and Universities UK.