CUPA 2018 Winner


Winner of the UHR – CUPA Bursary 2018

Rashmi Patel

Head of HR Operations at Nottingham Trent University




We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2018 UHR – CUPA Bursary is Rashmi Patel of Nottingham Trent University. The Bursary is now in its second year. It enables the recipient to undertake a combined CUPA-HR Conference visit (this year to be held in Indianapolis) and study tour of US universities.

Rashmi’s role at Nottingham Trent

Rashmi Patel is Head of HR Operations at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) where she   provides strategic leadership and management of all operational HR services and continuous improvement projects across four multi-disciplinary campuses at NTU.  As a senior adviser to the University Executive Team and University Leadership Team on all employment and policy matters, Rashmi works to promote cultural change, inclusion, collaborative working and employee engagement across the University. She also actively leads on a wide-range of projects and initiatives aligned to the NTU strategy of “Creating the University of the Future.”

Building inclusivity: Study visit plans

“I’m passionate about education and our collective capacity to transform lives and shape the future,” Rashmi said. “My study visit will be based on the theme of ‘Building Inclusivity’. I see the CUPA Conference and Study visit as a unique opportunity to help raise awareness and intelligence of common global issues, something that is of huge value not just to me and NTU but also to a great many HEIs in the UK and in the USA too. Increasing diversity in our workforce is paramount for the future, and not just in terms of gender. I want to see how institutions can actively widen participation and increase social mobility to create truly diverse and inclusive institutions. How can we really nurture such an environment? How can we actively support that kind of environment by attracting, retaining and fully utilising the potential of under-represented BAME groups in higher education at all levels? How do we build workforces that are more representative of our student bodies? What are our partners in the US doing in this area that we can learn from in the UK?”

Rashmi will attend a minimum of three US HE providers and has already fostered working links to institutions including the Universities of Chicago and Detroit. Both institutions draw from a hugely diverse student base in vast metropolitan areas but reach out across the country and internationally too. Chicago proudly assert that they actively hire people with a wide-range of diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, races, abilities, gender, sexual orientation, military status and more – they believe such diversity enriches the community and the learning within it. Detroit believes the diversity of its student body, with many international students, adds a valuable dimension of cultural interchange to university life. What is the reality? Rashmi Patel will set out to see progressing diversity and inclusion in practice on her study visits.

“There is still a significant lack of diversity in organisations across all sectors. Addressing diversity and inclusion is a societal issue, a moral issue, and a business issue for us all. Around 14% of the UK working age population comes from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background and by 2030 it is expected that the proportion will be closer to 20% (CIPD 2017). Without action to develop inclusive workplace cultures, where people with a diverse range of identities feel able to perform at their best and progress in their organisations, we face an under-utilisation of talent.

“As a senior leader in the HR profession and Chartered Fellow of the CIPD I hope I can play a role in helping progress this change,” Rashmi said.

Sharing the learnings

It is a vital part of the rationale behind the UHR - CUPA Bursary that the recipient should be able to share learnings from the visit as widely as possible with colleagues back in the UK.  UHR facilitates this through its communications, conferences, seminars etc. Rashmi’s proposal outlined numerous ways in which she will be able to pass on the learnings from the trip and UHR looks forward to helping her do just that.


This year the UHR – CUPA Bursary selectors were the UHR Chair (Sandra Heidinger, HR Director, Strathclyde), both Vice-Chairs (Paul Boustead, HR Director, Lancaster and Dean Morley, HR Director, Royal College of Art), and a UHR Group Chair (Joanne Marshall, HR Director at Bradford, UHR NE).

On behalf of UHR, our Chair Sandra Heidinger of the University of Strathclyde notes that the topic for study is, as in 2017, about equality and diversity. The 2017 winner was Sophie Harris of SOAS. “Rashmi Patel’s proposal follows and builds on Sophie Harris’s work, but the topic is such a huge one for the sector and Rashmi is planning to approach it from a completely different angle. While Sophie considered academic progression, Rashmi will widen the theme to other staff and student groups, and beyond gender. Rashmi Patel was the unanimous and clear first choice of the selectors. We saw this as a great proposal, including a clear plan for achievable learning around the visit, and a specific and effective dissemination plan for sharing the learning.”

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