1. Decolonising the curriculum, inclusive teaching material

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

Of the twenty institutions studied, thirteen have said they are examining their teaching material in order to make it more inclusive. Sometimes this is called ‘decolonising the curriculum’, sometimes ‘making education more inclusive’. Curricula are often founded on European or Western perspectives. Institutions and teachers thus try to make room for other perspectives. For instance, by covering more non-Western thinkers or not just using heteronormative examples in lectures. Erasmus University does the same, for instance by training lecturers. Initiatives for more inclusive education are also emerging from lecturers themselves, for instance in response to Black Lives Matter two years ago.

Protester with a sign saying ”black lives matter”.

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2. Diversity events

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

All of the 20 institutions studied regularly organise events around the theme of diversity and inclusion. These can be lectures and debates as well as informal networking events or outreach programmes. The diversity office in Rotterdam organises all kinds of events, including around International Women’s Day on 8 March or Diversity Day on 4 October.

3. Separate physical space for a diversity office or diversity policy officers

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

Each institution has organised its diversity policy differently. Diversity officers often form part of an HR or student affairs department. Of the twenty institutions, seven have a separate, recognisable space for the diversity office. Erasmus University is one of them, the diversity office is in the Erasmus building.

4. Target figures for female professors

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

These figures only apply to research universities, not to universities of applied sciences. All 13 universities have target figures for the appointment of female professors. Only Eindhoven University of Technology also has a quota of female professors who must have been appointed by a specific time. Erasmus University’s target was 25 per cent by 2025. That was already met by the end of 2020, so now it has been adjusted to 35 per cent.

5. Rainbow zebra crossing or other permanent LGBTQ+ symbol at the institution

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We found a public LGBTQ+ symbol on the premises of 9 of the 20 institutions studied. These are often rainbow zebra crossings, stairs or ramps. The rainbow path on campus Woudestein was opened this autumn, on 11 October, Coming Out Day. The path came about at the initiative of a student, and was also criticised for being located in a place that is difficult for people in wheelchairs to pass through and thus not a good symbol of inclusion.

6. Gender-neutral toilets

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

All of the institutions studied have at least one gender-neutral, or all-gender, toilet. Except TU Delft, but in the beginning of next year an all-gender toilet will open in Delft as well. Sometimes, it takes a while to discover where these are and how many there are. Erasmus University College and Erasmus MC have all-gender toilets, for example. On Woudestein campus, these toilets are a lot harder to find. In the Bayle building, employees changed one of the toilets into an all-gender toilet by putting up a self-made sign.

7. Toolkit inclusive recruitment and selection

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

All of the institutions studied are also taking action to make the staff recruitment process more inclusive. They are offering training and resources during recruitment and making it clear in job advertisements that the institution is open to everybody. Erasmus University has a toolkit for inclusive recruitment and selection. EUR job vacancies often contain a paragraph stating that the university aims to be a just and inclusive community and offers equal opportunities.

8. Unconscious bias training

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Image credit: Jowan de Haan

All of the institutions studied have a form of unconscious bias training that teaches staff and students to recognise and address their own blind spots and unconscious biases. These training sessions are not mandatory at most institutions. At Erasmus University, we see the same picture. Training is there, but not compulsory for everyone.

For this study, 36 policy documents of 21 educational institutions were analysed. The institutions comprised 13 research universities and 8 universities of applied sciences. The documents included visions, strategies, policy documents, action plans and position papers in which educational institutions set out their plans.

The participating media of the research universities and universities of applied sciences are affiliated with the Circle of Editors-in-chief of Higher Education Media.

The following institutions were studied:
Fontys University of Applied Sciences, University of Groningen, VU University Amsterdam, Utrecht University, University of Twente, Avans University of Applied Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Delft University of Technology, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht University, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Tilburg University, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Wageningen University, Leiden University.

This study was partly made possible by a contribution from the Journalism Promotion Fund.