Prioritising equality, diversity and inclusion activities through the Enhancement Themes

Original illustration by Ying Sun, Edinburgh College of Art alumni

In this post, Nichola Kett provides an update on how the University is engaging in the latest Enhancement Theme: Resilient learning communities. Nichola is Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services. This post is part of the L&T Enhancement Theme: Examples of positive practices in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

What are the Enhancement Themes?

The Enhancement Themes are a way for students and staff in universities across Scotland to work together on a theme to improve the student experience.

The current Enhancement Theme is resilient learning communities (2020-23), which focuses on meeting the changing needs and values of an increasingly diverse student community in a rapidly changing external environment.  Equality, diversity and inclusion is priority area of the current Enhancement Theme.

What Enhancement Theme activity is happening in the University?

Activity related to equality, diversity and inclusion as part of our work on the Enhancement Theme includes the following:

  • In 2021/22, Enhancement Themes funding was used to support a project in the School of Health in Social Science to improve experiences for students with disabilities.  A student intern gathered feedback from students with disabilities and, alongside the staff project lead, Emily Taylor, co-authored a report with recommendations for improvements. The School has put in place an action plan, and progress will be evaluated this year. The School has also shared information on the methodology and outcomes of the project across the University.
  • Rayya Ghul, from the Institute for Academic Development, contributed to the Scotland-wide Decolonising the Curriculum in the time of Pandemic collaborative cluster in 2021/22. As a result, she has created the Decolonising the Curriculum Hub to support work being carried out across the University to support thinking and action on decolonising the curriculum. The Hub outlines how to make a start at decolonising the curriculum alongside supporting resources and case studies.
  • Two ‘Building Community’ PhD Interns have been appointed to support our Enhancement Themes work in 2021/22. We plan to continue to gather and share good practice and to support pilot activity, with a focus on those activities that make the most impact and that reduce attainment gaps. A primary aim of our work is to develop information and support for students and staff on what works in building community and belonging.

Find out more about the University’s work on the Enhancement Themes: Enhancement Themes.

What is happening across Scotland?

Equality, diversity and inclusion is a priority area of the current Enhancement Theme, and has three projects running this year:

  1. The Anti-racist Curriculum project builds on the sector-wide commitment to tackle racism in Scottish higher and further education.  Phase 1 ran in 2020/21 and produced a range resources which constitute a guide to getting started, considerations of language, curriculum development, approaches to teaching, student engagement, allyship and more. The Phase 1 resources can be found on the AdvanceHE website.  Phase 2, running in 2021/22, will build on the Decolonising the Curriculum in the time of Pandemic collaborative cluster and aims to facilitate discussions, share practice, pilot and evaluate resources produced in Phase 1 and make recommendations for the continuation of the project in 2022/23.
  2. Student mental wellbeing will involve projects that explore how the sector can improve approaches and support student mental wellbeing with a particular focus on international students and students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
  3. Scoping for the current Enhancement Theme identified interest in examining the experience and needs of learners with experience of forced migration. As a result, a short study is underway to better understand how institutions are supporting New Scots, and to establish what further work might be undertaken as part of the current Enhancement Theme. We contributed information to the desk-based research part of this study.

This year’s student-led project (which engages student officers from across the sector to input and shape a piece of work related to the current Theme) is Promoting the Equity of the Student Learning Experience ( It is exploring how students and staff can support equity for diverse student communities to allow students to get maximum benefit from their learning opportunities. As part of this project, we have been asked to submit case studies.

Three projects related to equality, diversity and inclusion ran last year as part of sector-level Enhancement Themes activity:

  1. Decolonising the curriculum in the time of pandemic produced a report and stimuli for discussion.
  2. Student mental wellbeing within our BAME and LGBT+ learner communities produced a report and comprehensive review of resources.
  3. Addressing the digital divide 2020/21 student-led project produced top tips for building online communities and case studies.

If you are interested in discussing any of this Enhancement Themes work, please contact Nichola:

Nichola Kett

Nichola Kett is Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, where she oversees the implementation and management of the quality framework and manages the quality assurance and enhancement team. Nichola also engages with and contributes to key University learning and teaching activities.

photograph of the authorYing Sun

Ying Sun is an illustrator based in Nanjing. After graduating from MA illustration in Edinburgh College of Art, she currently works on creating picture books and some magazine illustrations. Ying likes to use bright colors and a variety of brush strokes to create illustrations, and she is passionate about using her wild imagination to visualize her daily life.


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