What’s the role of institutional communication in fostering diversity and inclusion in European higher institutions? Universities, research centres and similar institutions should be responsible not only for the education or future generations, but also for giving them the right tools and skills to better understand society and be responsible citizens. Communication plays a pivotal role in the shared narrative of how our world is made, influencing people’s lives and rights and the future. Society is changing, the new generation is challenging the older one to change the paradigm through which they see reality. Higher education institutions need to adapt their way of communicating to embrace a more connected and diverse world. Universities and other higher educational institutions in Europe benefited from EU policies on exchange programs for students, mobility for researchers between countries and on research funding. However, they also have to deal with the complexities arising from this increased mobility if they want to stay competitive in the international arena. Diversity and inclusion issues and opportunities have been studied for more than 80 years by corporations as they came to understand all the possible advantages of a high level of diversity in the workplace. Compared to the private sector, European institutions of higher education are lagging far behind. Even though there are clear European recommendations and guidelines on what the country members are expected to do to guarantee equality in higher education, every country, and even every institution in the same country, have chosen a different way to implement this. And sometimes they decided not to deal with it at all. In our study we decided to explore the issue of diversity and inclusion in European higher institutions’ communication practices, focusing on the LGBTQ+ community. In literature there are papers on institutional communication, LGBTQ+ issues and diversity and inclusion, but there are no systematic studies examining all these three areas together. Therefore, we adopted a twofold approach in our studies. We used a mixed research method, using a preliminary series of qualitative interviews to build a questionnaire which we then used to collect quantitative data. Both surveys focused on how institutional communication supports and makes sure that institutional policies on equality and inclusion became known. From our research two things are clear. Institutions of higher education in different European countries are all trying to somehow deal with the urgent issue of inclusion. And also that this process is being accelerated by European mobility policies for students and researchers. However, there is a lot of disparity among European countries on how successfully their higher education institutions are addressing this issue and for how long. We can put those European countries for which we have more data into three groups: those which have already spent years trying to find the best way to tackle discrimination and inequality, those which have more recently started this process and those which have only recently realised that they should do something about it. People in these institutions expect the institution’s policy announcements to be followed by swift action. They also ask for clear communication guidelines and for diversity training courses. People should also be strongly encouraged to participate in these courses. We identified some best practices and good initiatives that can be replicated by other institutions in other countries. We think that there should be more comparative studies on how the issue of diversity and inclusion is handled by different institutions in different European countries. This is because higher education institutions can learn from each other and because a minimum standard in common policies should be guaranteed across Europe to ensure real equality in higher education.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS’ COMMUNICATION / Vuolo, Nicola. - (2022 Feb 23).

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS’ COMMUNICATION

Vuolo, Nicola
2022-02-23

Abstract

What’s the role of institutional communication in fostering diversity and inclusion in European higher institutions? Universities, research centres and similar institutions should be responsible not only for the education or future generations, but also for giving them the right tools and skills to better understand society and be responsible citizens. Communication plays a pivotal role in the shared narrative of how our world is made, influencing people’s lives and rights and the future. Society is changing, the new generation is challenging the older one to change the paradigm through which they see reality. Higher education institutions need to adapt their way of communicating to embrace a more connected and diverse world. Universities and other higher educational institutions in Europe benefited from EU policies on exchange programs for students, mobility for researchers between countries and on research funding. However, they also have to deal with the complexities arising from this increased mobility if they want to stay competitive in the international arena. Diversity and inclusion issues and opportunities have been studied for more than 80 years by corporations as they came to understand all the possible advantages of a high level of diversity in the workplace. Compared to the private sector, European institutions of higher education are lagging far behind. Even though there are clear European recommendations and guidelines on what the country members are expected to do to guarantee equality in higher education, every country, and even every institution in the same country, have chosen a different way to implement this. And sometimes they decided not to deal with it at all. In our study we decided to explore the issue of diversity and inclusion in European higher institutions’ communication practices, focusing on the LGBTQ+ community. In literature there are papers on institutional communication, LGBTQ+ issues and diversity and inclusion, but there are no systematic studies examining all these three areas together. Therefore, we adopted a twofold approach in our studies. We used a mixed research method, using a preliminary series of qualitative interviews to build a questionnaire which we then used to collect quantitative data. Both surveys focused on how institutional communication supports and makes sure that institutional policies on equality and inclusion became known. From our research two things are clear. Institutions of higher education in different European countries are all trying to somehow deal with the urgent issue of inclusion. And also that this process is being accelerated by European mobility policies for students and researchers. However, there is a lot of disparity among European countries on how successfully their higher education institutions are addressing this issue and for how long. We can put those European countries for which we have more data into three groups: those which have already spent years trying to find the best way to tackle discrimination and inequality, those which have more recently started this process and those which have only recently realised that they should do something about it. People in these institutions expect the institution’s policy announcements to be followed by swift action. They also ask for clear communication guidelines and for diversity training courses. People should also be strongly encouraged to participate in these courses. We identified some best practices and good initiatives that can be replicated by other institutions in other countries. We think that there should be more comparative studies on how the issue of diversity and inclusion is handled by different institutions in different European countries. This is because higher education institutions can learn from each other and because a minimum standard in common policies should be guaranteed across Europe to ensure real equality in higher education.
2020/2021
Interdisciplinary laboratory
Brattoli, Leo; Giles, Sam
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11767/126854
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