11 Jan 2018

Supporting student engagement in Gender Action Plans

In 2016, the Scottish Funding Council published its Gender Action Plan (GAP), setting out ambitious targets for tackling the long-standing problem of gender imbalance within colleges and universities. It stipulates that, by 2030, no individual subject at a Scottish college or university shall have a gender imbalance greater than 75:25, and that the gap between overall male and female participation in undergraduate study shall be reduced to 5%.

From 2017, each institution has also been required to publish an annual GAP, detailing plans for meeting these – and interim – targets. A review of the first round of institutional GAPs indicated that, during the inaugural year, student engagement in the process was patchy and piecemeal.

Consequently, there is significant scope for improvement in this area and, in recognition of this, sparqs and NUS Scotland are currently delivering a joint project to develop student engagement in Gender Action Plans (GAPs), all the learning from which will be shared across the sector.

We were delighted with the response from institutions wishing to be involved in the pilot, with an incredible twenty-six institutions nominating themselves to take part. From this pool of applicants, a group of four colleges and four universities was selected to take part (see below for a list of participating institutions). Their key commitment is attendance at three events, scheduled for January, March and May 2018. Each institution can send up to three delegates to each event - a student representative, a member of college/university staff with responsibility for contributing to the GAP and, where possible, a staff member whose role is to work with elected officers and support the work of the Students’ Association.

The project will develop knowledge and confidence in student engagement in GAPs by:

  • Providing participating institutions with access to sectoral organisations that can support them in developing and enhancing student engagement in their GAP.
  • Increasing knowledge in the sector about different approaches to student engagement.
  • Providing a platform for gathering and showcasing best practice.
  • Promoting opportunities for peer-to-peer support and learning.

We are delighted that Equate Scotland and the Equality Challenge Unit will be supporting delivery of the project and sharing their expertise and insights with participants.

The institutions taking part in the Gender Action Plan pilot project are:

  • City of Glasgow College
  • North East Scotland College
  • West Lothian College
  • West Highland College UHI
  • University of Stirling
  • University of Abertay
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Aberdeen

We look forward to getting the pilot underway and working will all those involved. Updates will follow as the work progresses. For further information about the project, please visit our GAPs webpage or contact Lindsay Isaacs, Development Consultant on Lindsay.Isaacs@sparqs.ac.uk

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