All students at Oxford should be able to access and benefit from our world-class education – regardless of their disability, health, gender, ethnicity or home background.
For Oxford to remain a world-leading institution, we must provide a diverse, inclusive, fair, and open environment that allows all our students to grow and flourish – whilst at the same time maintaining our commitment to educational excellence.
We recognise that the broad range of experiences that a diverse student population brings to the University strengthens our research and enhances our teaching, and that teaching inclusively supports academic rigour by enabling students to fulfil their academic potential.
Building on what we learned during the pandemic, we now have a real opportunity for Oxford to be more inclusive, and there are many tools to help us do this.
What is inclusive education?
Inclusive education goes beyond supporting specific groups through a discrete set of policies and interventions. Instead, teaching, learning and assessment are designed and delivered taking students’ varied learning needs into account from the outset.
By doing so, it aims to improve the educational experience of all students, and so gives everyone an equal opportunity to achieve to their full academic potential.
Why does this matter?
Inclusive education is an approach that values individual differences and recognises the benefits that diverse students and staff bring to the University of Oxford. It therefore reinforces the commitments to diversity that underpin our access and admissions policies.
The University’s Access and Participation Plan highlights the gap between the academic attainment of undergraduate students overall, and those from under-represented groups – particularly impacting students from areas with low rates of participation in higher education, Black and Minority Ethnic groups, and those with disabilities.
Inclusive teaching practices contribute to students feeling that they matter and belong, and to them being:
- able to identify and communicate their learning needs
- motivated to learn
- confident that they can participate, and encouraged to do so
- clear about what they are expected to do and achieve.
Enhancing these feelings among students has been shown to decrease student awarding gaps and ensure that all students can thrive at university.
What can I do to make education more inclusive?
There are many Oxford-specific resources that already exist to support inclusive practices.
A good place to start is the Guide to inclusive teaching developed by the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Here you’ll learn about key principles of inclusive teaching that apply across different settings and contexts.
You may also like to enrol in a short online course in Canvas, An introduction to inclusive teaching at Oxford (SSO required).
Often, changes you make to your teaching can benefit all students and can even make your own practice more effective.
Learning about these practices and making some small changes can save time and effort in the long run as it reduces the need to make changes for individual students.
What can I learn from students?
Student feedback collected during the pandemic revealed how inclusive teaching practices and inclusive uses of digital tools can be employed to help students succeed in Oxford’s demanding academic and social environments, and complex ecosystem.
It is essential that developments respond to the concerns of our students – through analysing data, soliciting feedback and working in partnership with them.
By gaining a better understanding of students’ issues, and recognising the barriers they face, we will be able to respond to their needs more constructively.
What other Oxford-specific guidance and resources are available to help me?
In addition to the resources outlined above, there is a wide range of other Oxford-specific guidance for staff that supports inclusive approaches to teaching and assessment. To help you, we have brought these together in one place.
How can I share my experiences?
There is a huge amount of excellent inclusive practice taking place across the collegiate University.
Sharing your own insights and experiences with other colleagues in departments, colleges and divisions will help to spread best practice across Oxford.
Many of the resources provided by the Centre for Teaching and Learning include Oxford-specific teaching examples, including FIT (flexible and inclusive teaching) guidance, the Racially Inclusive Teaching Toolkit and academic transition support resources for staff – and we are always looking for more.
If you would like to share your experience with your peers, please contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning at email@example.com.