Equality, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI)

EDI Statement

At the NWCDTP, we are passionate about creating a positive research culture and promoting sense of belonging so that every student feels valued and supported. Issues relating to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are foundational in everything that we do. The NWCDTP is committed to embedding awareness of EDI issues at every level of the organisation by undertaking a thorough review of the DTP in terms of governance, application support, student engagement, experience and professional development, training and resources, and widening participation and alumni activities. The NWCDTP has recently appointed an EDI Advocate, Dr Hannah Helm, who will be working to address and improve EDI issues within the DTP over the next two years.

We are at the beginning of a process to undertake a comprehensive review of the entire DTP structure, with the aim of formulating a robust strategic plan to address EDI issues within our Consortium. Establishing this plan involves consulting with a range of communities and stakeholders such as the Stuart Hall Foundation and the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre, auditing and updating our processes, policies, and practices, and closely (re)examining how we do things. It involves reorienting the DTP, reviewing what we think is important about doctoral study, being open to new ways of working, and working closely with our existing students and alumni to implement positive change. Once this plan has been established, we will work towards its goals.

If you would like to be involved in this process, please get in touch with our NWCDTP Director Professor Jerome de Groot (he/him) (Jerome.degroot@manchester.ac.uk) or our EDI Advocate Dr Hannah Helm (she/her) (h.j.helm@edu.salford.ac.uk).

The NWCDTP particularly welcomes applications from students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in Higher Education. Many of these groups or backgrounds intersect and overlap and can pose barriers to equality of opportunity. These groups (with links to definitions and further information) are explained below:

  • Students who live in a geographical area where access to UK Higher Education is statistically low. Students can check whether this applies to them through POLAR – an online tool that classifies small areas across the UK according to the participation of young people in higher education;
  • Students who identify as having a disability. The term ‘disability’ is quite broad, and further definitions of what might be considered a ‘disability’ can be found under the Equality Act 2010;
  • First-generation students (first in family to go to university at undergraduate and postgraduate level);
  • Mature students (students aged 21 or over when starting their first undergraduate course);
  • Students who are care-experienced or a carer;
  • Students who are estranged and studying without family support due to a breakdown in relationship.

We are committed to supporting communities that are marginalised through application and mentorship support, as well as providing targeted studentships for candidates from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in Higher Education. In 2024, for example, we are running two specific studentships: the Global Majority or Global Majority Heritage studentship and the Broken Pipeline studentship, which are explained further on our ‘Prospective Applicants’ webpage. We are undertaking a process that we hope will address the underrepresentation and inequalities within our organisation more broadly. Ultimately, at the NWCDTP, we are working to promote equality of opportunity and challenge barriers to access and participation.

Our goal is to challenge conventional language and assumptions surrounding doctoral research, fostering inclusivity within our student cohort as a whole. We are committed to ensuring that our doctoral researchers are ethical, responsible, and leaders in their communities. We are actively working to inspire the next generation within and beyond our community, striving to widen participation in doctoral research.

Foundational Aspirations

At the NWCDTP, we have developed a set of foundational aspirations that are part of every decision we make. By ‘foundational aspirations’, we are referring to the core goals and ambitions that underpin the Consortium. These aspirations represent the underlying principles or values that guide our decision-making and influence the direction of our future actions, priorities, and developments:

• 73% of our researchers ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP upholds the aspiration of ‘honesty’ in its practices

• 73% of our researchers ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP is willing to ‘listen’ to them when they have a problem they need help with

• 73% of our students ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP recognises the diversity and ‘complexity’ of research in the context of PhD study

• 82% of our students ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP recognises the value in ‘different models of research and types of study

• 73% of our students ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP demonstrates ‘good communication’, sharing information in a clear and timely manner with researchers

• 91% of our students ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP is ‘inclusive and transparent’ in its practices

• 73% of our students ‘agreed’ that the NWCDTP shows a ‘commitment to diverse recruitment’ through our targeted studentships for students from underrepresented backgrounds

• 82% of our students agreed that the NWCDTP demonstrates ‘ethical awareness’ as an integral part of PhD study, as evidenced through our Sustainability Toolkit

Here is what our students say about our ‘foundational aspirations’:

  • ‘I feel the NWCDTP is truly inclusive of different research modes and types of study and that it treats recruitment fairly and ethically. I also think it is aware of the complexity of PGR [study] and does a good job at communicating this’
  • ‘The NWCDTP demonstrates a desire to distribute studentships transparently and fairly’
  • ‘I have been very impressed with the commitment I have seen from the DTP Director and staff to upholding what I have thought of as the “values” of the DTP’
  • ‘My experience of the DTP over the very many years I have been involved is that discussions have been open, and the decisions made transparent. There has been a real move in recent years to promote EDI and all the other aspirations, and I applaud this’
  • ‘The NWCDTP is committed to the well-being of its PGR students’
  • ‘The induction and the EDI workshop are the only sessions I have been to so far, but I feel that these were based on past listening – lots of emphasis on socialising, organising research, and being creative and calm’
  • ‘I think the NWCDTP’s focus on EDI issues shows their awareness and appreciation of different needs and issues’
  • ‘I think the foundational aspirations are evidenced by the documentation, the conduct, and the procedures of the awarding process, and the ring-fenced studentships have been very good’  

Our Actions


We have established an EDI Committee, which meets three times a year to advise on EDI issues, introduce new initiatives, and ensure that the EDI Action Plan is on course.

If you would like to join our EDI Group and ensure that your voice is heard at the EDI Committee, please get in touch with Hannah (EDI Advocate): h.j.helm@edu.salford.ac.uk. The EDI Committee met in January 2024, and further meetings will follow in May and September 2024 (dates to be confirmed).

Organisation Reform

We have outlined an EDI Action Plan, which will reform the institution from the ground up. This plan covers governance, student voice and representation, recruitment, supervision and training, widening participation, and application support activities. If you have any questions about the EDI Action Plan, please contact Hannah (EDI Advocate, h.j.helm@edu.salford.ac.uk).

Targeted Studentships

The NWCDTP is committed to equality of opportunity and working to ensure our cohort reflects the diverse communities we serve, and so our strategic aim is to encourage students with protected characteristics to participate in our programme at a level commensurate with these characteristics in the wider population. The nine protected characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Our aspiration is that the representation of studentships mirrors the diversity of the UK population. Our commitment to diversifying participation at the programme level also assists in helping us to address underrepresentation in the wider academic community, with our students commonly taking up teaching positions in the sector. Further information about our targeted studentships for September 2024 entry can be found in the ‘Standard Application Guidance’ document on our ‘Prospective Applicants’ webpage.

Partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation

We have recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Stuart Hall Foundation: an organisation devoted to addressing issues of inequality within society. The Stuart Hall Foundation will advise us, contribute to our discussions surrounding targeted studentships and recruitment, mentor our EDI Advocate, and provide training for staff and students.

Collaboration with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust have been commissioned to work with the NWCDTP in a critical friend capacity. Through two workshops (February and March 2024), the Trust will focus on how we can better recruit and support students from underrepresented backgrounds (with a focus on people from Global Majority backgrounds), as well as strategies for working ethically and in mutually beneficial ways with local communities. The workshops will be highly participatory and will offer a framework for the NWCDTP to examine our own practice and experiences, as well as looking outside the Partnership. The overall aim of the workshops is to draw out principles, approaches, and tools that will inform our future work.

Student Representation

We are expanding our student representation into a Student Voice Committee, ensuring that more of our students can contribute and have their voices heard. We are currently recruiting new Student Representatives within the NWCDTP.

If you are a current NWCDTP student and would like to become a Student Representative, please get in touch with our NWCDTP Director (Jerome.degroot@manchester.ac.uk) or EDI Advocate (h.j.helm@edu.salford.ac.uk).

Funding and Widening Participation Fellows

We have allocated ringfenced funding to Student Experience projects that will drive our EDI agenda, including targeted funding around themes (EDI, Widening Participation, and Sustainability). We will appoint Widening Participation Fellows to work on Widening Participation projects in partnership with outreach initiatives in our seven institutions.

Mentoring and Application Support Fellows

We are currently developing a mentoring scheme in collaboration with our alumni, which is funded by the NWCDTP. We will appoint Application Support Fellows to support future students at MA and L3 level, with a key focus on mentoring responsibilities, development work, and contributing to outreach events. In addition, we are offering more support for potential applicants, particularly Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs).