Exploring Difference: Diversity Management and Equity as Factors for Student Success

Embassy of Canada to Germany, Berlin, 16. September 2015 13:00 bis 20:00

The series International Dialogue on Education is a joint initiative of the British Council, the German Academic Ex­change Service (DAAD), the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Embassy of Canada in Germany and Freie Universität Berlin. Through the contributions of international participants the series aims to enrich the debate on science, research and higher education policy in Germany, to place German perspectives in a global context and to learn from positive examples from other countries.

The twelfth conference in the ID-E Berlin series focused on the challenges that a diverse student and faculty body poses towards successful student retention and graduation rates as well as to the strategic development of higher education institutions. The discussions addressed the following topics and questions:

1. Institutional challenges and demands

  • How can HEI integrate diversity, equity, and educational quality efforts into their missions and institutional operations?
  • What are the benefits of diversity management strategies for a university’s performance in research, teaching, and service?
  • Does the non-management of diversity have a negative impact on issues such as academic performance, student retention and success, employability, and equality of learning outcome?
  • Is there such a thing as a “tool box” for best practice in other countries to close the achievement gaps in student success and completion?
  • How can we implement an institution-wide commitment to address diversity, equity, learning, and student success as core values with measurable goals?
  • Do we overcharge universities if we expect them to solve problems that society at large cannot?

2. Managing diversity

  • Which institutional structures, approaches to teaching, attitudes and expectations do we need to secure the best learning experience and equality of outcome for all students?
  • Are university teachers prepared to deal with the existing diversity on campus?
  • What are the challenges posed to administrators, and how can they work towards moving diversity from liability to asset?
  • Can the creation of an inclusive living and learning environment be achieved within universities, and if so, what are indicators for success?
  • How do we deal with the increasing heterogeneity of the student body? Do we, for example, have to educate university teachers in the field of culturally responsive pedagogies?
  • How do we assess success when it comes to diversity management? Are there tangible and measurable outcomes of such efforts?

3. General questions and national frameworks

  • How can we link national priorities of degree completion to the individual institutions’ goals of excellence in teaching and research?
  • Do we need national programs to support diversity management at universities?
  • In which ways are tuition-based system better equipped to accommodate diverse campus population’s needs? How cost-intensive are such?
  • What is the impact of diversity postulations for our HEIs’ competitiveness and capacity for innovation?

Drawing on examples from their own education systems and institutions, a detailed understanding of the different challenges and new developments in HE diversity management was elicited from our experts from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, and Germany.