The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Impact Programme has awarded funding to the University’s School of Engineering, Technology and Design to support a project that addresses the unequal outcomes experienced by students from diverse and underrepresented groups studying engineering.

Launched in October 2021, the Diversity Impact Programme aims to inspire change in university engineering departments so that all students succeed, enabling the unique perspectives and experiences of engineers from diverse backgrounds to enhance the profession.

An important aspect of the programme is that the universities themselves define what they need to meet their diversity challenges. Some of this year’s projects focus particularly on the barriers faced by students with multiple intersecting markers of disadvantage.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Engineering and technology shape the world around us and play a critical role in addressing some of the greatest global challenges of our age. It is therefore vital that the engineering profession is reflective of the society it seeks to serve.

“There is also an overwhelming evidence base for the business benefits of diverse teams and inclusive leadership so as an Academy one of our priorities is to ensure that the UK has a world-leading and truly inclusive engineering workforce, something that we can only achieve if we boost the numbers and diversity of those choosing engineering careers.

“In order to do that we need to address the inequality of experience and outcomes for engineering students and graduates from underrepresented groups. I hope these projects will provide important insights into how we can achieve this and help to create more inclusive cultures at a critical stage for aspiring engineers.”

Canterbury Christ Church University has been awarded £93,500 to develop an EDI engineering employability learning toolkit. This aims to increase the pipeline of women, Black, Asian, minority ethnic and low socioeconomic status students to address the regional skills gap. It will also improve a student's immediate and long-term social capital, employability skills and give them every opportunity to succeed.

Students will participate in developing an EDI engineering employability learning toolkit to help themselves and others to improve their immediate and long-term social capital and employability. Working closely with EqualEngineers and other stakeholders to research and develop the toolkit, students will undertake activities such as networking and work placement, while also developing personal development, including in work readiness and curriculum skills. The final EDI toolkit will provide customised support for underrepresented students to showcase their engineering talent and transition into employment.

Leading the project is Dr Anne Nortcliffe, Head of School of Engineering, Technology, and Design. Dr Nortcliffe is an advocate for promoting equality in learning and is passionate about finding new and innovative ways to increase diversity in STEM.

We are looking forward to developing this inclusive toolkit that will continue our work in building and transforming the way we approach engineering design. It will embed key tools to help our Black, Asian and minority ethnic students showcase their talent to Industry. We work hard to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion is woven into everything we do at the University, from student recruitment, school and college outreach activities, facilities and resources, curriculum design and industrial engagement. We want to drive change in how the University and partner employers recruit inclusive engineers and actively address the engineering and technology skills gap in the region.

Dr Anne Nortcliffe, Head of School of Engineering, Technology, and Design.

All grant recipients have demonstrated a commitment to transformative change and will join a community of practice to facilitate learning across the cohort of grantees and the wider engineering higher education sector.

This programme is funded through the Academy’s allocation of funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.


Notes for Editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.