Diversity Management: Realising Potential
Both experience and statistics1 have shown that access to higher education is most readily available for young Germans from educated, financially secure backgrounds. Ensuring that this does not remain the status quo has been the task of the Vice-Rectorate for Diversity Management (DiM) at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), which in its founding year in 2008 was the first Vice-Rectorate of its kind. In the years following, the UDE’s Vice-Rectorate for Diversity Management acquired national recognition for furthering the enormous innovative potential of social and cultural diversity in higher education.
Challenges and Opportunities
As societies become increasingly diverse and globally connected, teaching and research ought to reflect student and staff diversity. This process should begin well before students attend their first university courses, continue throughout their university career, and remain a focal point when they enter the workforce. Diversity Management helps develop tools for structural change that sustain this development, tools that help both student and staff navigate the multifaceted aspects of an ever-changing social and cultural landscape.
The UDE is well aware of the challenges and opportunities presented by a highly diverse student body: many UDE students hail from the post-industrial Rhine-Ruhr-region, a sizable amount of which are first generation students; not infrequently with a migrant background.
On a nationwide scale, the UDE has one of the highest numbers of multi-national graduates. In order to improve their educational opportunities and academic success, various measures are being developed and applied to assist students at all levels, from first years to postgraduates. To ensure the effectiveness of the implemented measures, the UDE works closely with schools, foundations and trusts to improve concepts that provide support to gifted students and so help facilitate entry into university education. The UDE has a number of existing programmes that support students on their academic journey from their school desks to university lecture halls.
Equity and Equality
Equity is a fundamental concern when it comes to students and staff at the UDE. In this context, coordinating family care duties, higher education and/or an academic career is not easily done. This is why UDE Diversity Management focuses on establishing better avenues to enable internal support structures. One of the university’s aims is to empower various marginalised demographics, e.g. individuals with foreign qualifications and/or visiting researchers and staff.
As a university located at the heart of one of Europe’s largest post-industrial regions, the UDE is faced with the distinctive challenges of every post-industrial space: wide-scale structural changes, deeply embedded urbanisation and digitalisation. Therefore, the UDE actively seeks to improve access to the university for highly qualified researchers by, for example, recognizing diverse professional competences and creating sustainable conditions for lifelong learning.