Q - Given the large number of international students can you provide more cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication training for staff? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Colin Grant: Yes, currently we are working with Staff Development on this issue. We had a forum in July bringing together a wide range of staff and also the Students’ Union to discuss what it is to engage in an intercultural space. This is ongoing and a number of training events have taken place with more to be done in the future.
I particularly want to highlight the work of the Students’ Union in fostering a culture that values an intercultural community and their work with myself, other members of the SMT and central University services on this front.
Q - I am sure everyone is aware of the ongoing refugee crisis on the borders of Europe, and many universities across the UK and Europe have created funded scholarships for refugees. Over 1,000 members of staff and students have signed a letter (which is yet to be delivered) asking the University to fund at least ten scholarships and partner with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) to support refugee academics. So I have two questions:
- Do you appreciate the strength of feeling among the University community?
- Will you do everything you can to make those ten funded refugee places a reality?
(Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: The key is that we need to work out what to do, and how to do that effectively. There are things that we could do, but what we would like to do in this situation is do the best that we possibly can.
We need to be looking at what other universities are going, and learn from their best practice.
We are signed up to CARA and we have had at least one academic come to the University from CARA, but we have had other academics come as well, from outside CARA. We haven’t made a big noise about that because it is to do with integration and treating people with equality. But now we are facing an international crisis of such a scale that it is difficult to know what is going to be most effective for the sector as a whole. I am currently exploring a more strategic response from across the sector with other people.
Professor Colin Grant: I appreciate the depth of feeling here at the University. Impact is absolutely critical to anything we do. There has to be real impact, concrete tangible improvement in people’s lives arising from any University action. We have engaged quite strongly with CARA in the very recent past, we had a senior academic in Pharmacy & Pharmacology come to Bath with his family.
Beyond that I think the University is well placed with real academic expertise in Social & Policy Sciences and other departments, with specialists who look at migration, repatriation of refugees, microfinance and interfaith understanding. This puts us in a good position to have significant dialogues with people who do have the wherewithal to make a difference in a wider region. Discussions are ongoing.
Update: Senate has agreed to discuss a report at its next meeting.
Q - When do you hope to roll out PREVENT training to staff?
(PREVENT is part of the government counter-terrorism strategy, designed to prevent people from supporting terrorism or becoming involved in terrorism themselves)
A - Mark Humphriss, University Secretary: The University is required to provide PREVENT training to relevant staff as soon as possible as a result of the PREVENT Duty coming into force in September 2015. Our approach to PREVENT was considered recently by Council. Training and awareness-raising will be provided to relevant groups, including many student-facing professional services staff. I am currently liaising with our regional PREVENT coordinator on plans, which will start in early 2016. (Mark Humphriss, University Secretary)