Signed ahead of International Roma Day, on Friday, 8 April, the GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge will help to ensure that everyone feels welcome, included, and supported at ARU.
In signing the pledge, ARU is committed to making sure that both students and staff can feel confident in identifying as a GTRSB community member, as well as knowing they will receive the support needed to become a successful graduate or receive access to the tools and resources needed to progress their career at ARU.
Social Policy academics at ARU are leading important research into some of the barriers faced by people from these communities. Dr David Smith, Reader in Social Policy at ARU is an Advisory Board member of the Traveller Movement and is ARU’s institutional lead for the GTRSB into HE Pledge.
Alongside Dr Pauline Lane, Reader in Mental Health at ARU, Dr Smith has carried out research into caring for dementia within Gypsy and Traveller communities, and has also studied Roma migration. With Margaret Greenfields, Professor of Social Policy at ARU, Dr Smith conducted the first in-depth study into the settlement of nomadic communities into housing.
There are currently very few GTRSB university students and graduates within the UK. Although numbers of GTRSB students are increasing annually, analysis carried out by Professor Greenfields, who is also the lead academic convenor of the GTRSB into HE Pledge, estimates that there are less than 500 members of these communities in higher education, of which no more than 30 are undertaking postgraduate research training.
It is hoped that initiatives such as the GTRSB into HE Pledge can help to tackle this and widen participation in higher education amongst people from these groups.
Professor Greenfields has over 30 years of experience of working with Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater communities, focusing on research that directly impacts policy. She has a number of external roles, including sitting on the advisory board for the Office for National Statistics, supporting their work in devising inclusive methodologies for qualitative data gathering relating to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities.
Together with Dr Smith and the Showmen's Mental Health Charity, Professor Greenfields is currently developing a unique pilot study looking at the physical and mental health needs of the Travelling Showpeople’s community.
Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of ARU, said: “We’re committed to building an inclusive environment where students feel as though they belong, are proud of who they are and what they achieve. We understand that our staff and students need a welcoming, inclusive community to thrive, and that’s why we are pleased to have signed the Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen and Boaters into Higher Education Pledge.
“ARU is proud to welcome students from all over the world, from different races, cultures and backgrounds. We are stronger because of the diversity of our community and this pledge will help us to ensure that members of the GTRSB community will feel more confident to join us at ARU.”