QMUL’s missing diversity data

In May 2017, QM UCU and Unison branches jointly launched a petition asking QM to publish its missing four years of workforce diversity data.

In September 2017, the campaign was relaunched with posters / flyers across campus.

Please sign the petition, display the “QM missing data” poster and share these widely. Anyone can sign the petition – not just staff and students at QMUL.

Below is a timeline of key events, with quotes from relevant correspondence in our ongoing efforts to obtain data.

Clearly, obtaining QM’s workforce diversity data is only the beginning. Once the data has been published we can look at it together and identify key campaigning issues where there are structural inequalities affecting our members.

Timeline of efforts to obtain QM’s workforce diversity data:

2012. QM publishes its workforce diversity data for the academic year 2011-12. This is the most recently available data.

2013. Student diversity data for 2012-13 is published. Staff data is missing, due to “a delay in the process”.

2014. Student diversity data for 2013-14 is published.

14 May 2014. Minutes of QM’s Equality and Diversity Steering Group show that data was discussed extensively at the meeting. The minutes also state “a paper on Equality and Diversity data was to be prepared for council” and “there would be an increasing focus on data to indicate where we needed to invest our activity most to support the proposition that diversity is good for business, not just for compliance”. There were several action points relating to breakdown of data by BME categories, gender, role, grade, and discussion of data with HR Heads of Operation. No staff diversity data for 2012-13 or 2013-14 have been published however.

23 October 2014. Minutes for EDSG state “The Annual Data for 2012-13 is being reshaped by an external consultant to include the action points from the previous meeting.” The data remains unpublished.

There are no minutes of EDSG meetings between October 2014 and November 2015.

No staff diversity data or student diversity data for 2014-15 is published.

11 February 2016. Minutes for EDSG state: “Priorities going forward are QMUL’s institutional Silver Athena Swan Submission along with resolving the issues around data in support of it”

11 May 2016. Minutes for EDSG state: “Members discussed at length, theongoing issues with data and possible solutions. Some of which included employing someone to specifically look at data which was already occurring in some faculties, talking to and learning from others.”

No staff diversity data or student diversity data for 2015-16 is published.

5 October 2016. QMUCU and Unison branches table a paper at EDSG (minutes of this meeting are missing). The paper included six requests:

  • The formation of the Information Network Group include the appointment of a dedicated Equalities Data Officer who will have responsibility for finding and publishing data for the missing four years, as well as the data going forward. As
  • EDSG makes a statement regarding Equalities Data, giving reasons for the missing data and missing EDSG minutes, and a timetable and plan of action for supplying the data for the past four years.
  • As an interim measure, QM publishes workforce diversity information contained in its annual HESA returns for the missing four years, and establishes a Data Task Force
  • The data for 2012-13 referred to in the EDSG minutes for 14 May 2014 be published forthwith.
  • The paper to Council referred to in the EDSG minutes for 14 May 2014 be circulated to the campus Trade Unions.
  • In future, equalities data from the staff survey be integrated with the workforce diversity data in a single report.

There are references to an ‘Information Network Group’ in QM’s Equality Objectives for 2016-2020. However, none of the above requests has yet been met.

9 February 2017. QMUCU submits four requests for workforce diversity data to QMUL’s Information Officer, one request for each year of missing data, with headings following the pattern of the most recent workforce diversity data report for 2011-12.

15 February 2017. Minutes for EDSG state that “Unison and UCU raised the issue of missing equalities data and the non-publication of workforce data, covering the last four years, as outlined in their paper presented to EDSG on 5 October 2016 …. The paper included a number requests that have yet to be addressed. Emphasis was placed on the negative impact that the absence of data was having on the unions’ ability to develop a programme of action around issues, if it is not circulated. The increase in bullying and harassment was used as an example.”

Management’s action points from this meeting included: “to reflect on data and report to QMSE on whether structure and people are an issue, and to report the outcome back to EDSG” and “to raise the issue with IT”.

2 March 2017. All four QMUCU Freedom of Information requests are rejected as follows:

For the purposes of estimating whether the cost of compliance exceed the appropriate limit (as defined by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulation 2004) we have aggregated the four requests as the following conditions, from the Information Commissioner’s guidance, are clearly met

[C]onditions require the requests to be: · made by one person, or by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign; · made for the same or similar information; and · received by the public authority within any period of 60 consecutive working days.

In commencing work on the first year of data we have been able to estimate that the appropriate limit will be exceeded if all parts of all four requests are to be fulfilled.

Therefore, in collaboration with your colleagues, please advise which parts of each request or which periods you would like us to fulfil. The remainder will be refused at this point but you will be able to reapply at a point in the future if you still require this data.

18 April 2017. UCU responds to QMUCU Freedom of Information rejection as follows:

Could we please receive QM’s HESA submissions for all four years (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16). This should cover some of the data requested. We can then look at what the gaps are between the HESA submissions and the full Workforce Diversity Data.

26 April 2017. The amended FOI is rejected as follows:

I am afraid that your request is refused under s.21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as this information is reasonably accessible to you by other means, that is by requesting it from HESA.
 
Please accept this as a refusal notice in line with s.17.

15 May 2017. QMUCU opens correspondence with HESA regarding the requested data.

13 September 2017. HESA states that our requested data specification

can be extracted from the Heidi Plus business intelligence tool (https://www.hesa.ac.uk/services/heidi-plus) which is available to subscribing HE providers.

11 October 2017. QMUCU writes to QMUL’s Information Officer:

HESA have said that we should ask QM for the data from the Heidi system. I will forward you their response.
Please could we now have the data requested, via the Heidi system?

16 October 2017. QMUL’s Information Officer responds to UCU:

I am afraid that you have been misinformed by HESA and should re-apply to it. This is because HESA has dealt with your enquiry as coming from a member of staff at a U.K. HEI, as opposed to a member of the public as we have done, since all FOI requests are applicant-blind. This is an important distinction in how each of us handles requests. It also has implications on the conditions of any data released to you or anyone else who might make similar requests.
 
We maintain that s.21 of the Freedom of Information Act is engaged.
 
I am sorry if this seems slightly unreasonable, but that is how things must work.

19 October 2017. QMUCU requests quotation from HESA for data that they are able to provide regarding staff diversity at QMUL. HESA quotes as follows:

The price is £492 + VAT, which is inclusive of a 20% HE providers discount.

The price quoted is for internal use only within your own organisation. If you do want to publish or share reports based on the Deliverables (the data), or share the Deliverables with a third party please let us know. This may incur additional charges.

Please note that use of the Deliverables is licenced for a period of 12 months from the date of purchase. The Licence period can normally be extended after 12 months and this may incur additional charges. Please speak to us for more information. Reports based upon the Deliverables can be retained after the Licence period has ended.

It will take up to 15 days to supply the data to you once the contract has been signed. Please let me know if you are happy to proceed and I can draw up a contract for you.

25 October 2017. QMUCU met with HR to hear about progress on this issue. HR have said they will provide a further update at the end of November 2017.

We will keep members informed.

Please get in touch with the branch if you wish to discuss this matter.

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