The trustees of the UK Social Policy Association (SPA executive committee) have sent the below letter to the board of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) following the recent decision to suspend Research England’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group and other actions announced in the 31 October open letter by the Chief Executive of UKRI.
The SPA Executive Committee
To: Members of the Board, UK Research and Innovation
We, the Trustees of the Social Policy Association, want to add our concerns to those expressed by others about the decision taken by the Chief Executive of UKRI to suspend the operations of the Research England Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group.
The UK Social Policy Association is a learned society and charity. Our purpose is to advance the teaching, research, and dissemination of knowledge in the field of social policy, and to represent the interests of our members. As such, the Social Policy Association is keen to support colleagues in the UK and other countries who share our commitments to advancing research and scholarship in social policy, and to the education of future generations of scholars. Central to our values is the commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
We find that the response of the Chief Executive of UKRI, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser and the decision to suspend the UKRI EDI advisory group, apparently as a result of opinions expressed among its members, is unwarranted and undermines the commitment of the UKRI to the principles of lawful free speech, equality, diversity, and inclusion. The opinions expressed by the members of the advisory group in question, whether one agrees in full with them or not, remain within the confines of the law and there has been no legal case made against those who expressed them.
Further, given the recognition of the need for action to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of higher education, we are concerned about the impact the actions announced by UKRI in its letter might have on wider initiatives.
The trustees of the Social Policy Association
Social Policy Association
Charity no. 528347
10 Queen Street Place, London, EC4R 1BE