A new National Diverse Student Network (NDSN) has been launched for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The student-led network is a not-for-profit organisation that will promote equality of career opportunities, by providing a friendly and supportive online environment in which students from diverse backgrounds and communities can share ideas in relation to self-development, professional skills, training and business start-ups.
The initiative, which is also intended to respond to the under-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals within the professions and to address obstacles to career progression, has been set up by Dr Rita D’Alton-Harrison, from the Department of Law and Criminology at Royal Holloway, University of London with Nicola Antoniou, formerly of Royal Holloway’s Department of Law and Criminology. Along with barrister, Sailesh Mehta from Red Lion Chambers and solicitor, Michael Herford, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Legal Lifelines. They saw a need for a national network to empower and equip students from every background, offering equal chances of opportunity and to embrace difference.
The network will eventually include students from all disciplines across all UK universities. It aims to provide unified access to mentoring programmes and training programmes, including a regular webinar series. The website also contains student blogs and forums to allow students to connect with each other.
Dr Rita D’Alton-Harrison, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Law and Criminology at Royal Holloway, said: “We are really excited to be launching this network today, we want students across the UK to make connections with their peers and future employers so that they can be advocates for change to truly bring about a diverse workforce where talent contributes to the growth of businesses and the economy.
“Young people are our future, and we wanted to offer a platform for a student-led organisation which offers a friendly and supportive environment for students from diverse communities to meet and share ideas for their own professional development.”
Nicola Antoniou, formerly of the Department of Law and Criminology at Royal Holloway, continued: “I am very pleased that we are launching NDSN. The network represents everything that the co-founders and student committee members believe in. We hope through this student-led network that members can engage in fruitful discussions, not only with external professionals, but with each other. It will provide our members, across different universities, with an opportunity to develop their own professional identities. We hope to give our members the professional space to create their own opportunities and shape their own futures, demonstrating that diversity equals success, knowledge and growth.”
Michael Herford, Managing Director at Legal Lifelines, said: “Legal Lifelines is proud to support the NDSN which is going to be an effective community organisation that enables young people to achieve their full potential and demonstrates the power of unity. Too often our young people are being let down by low expectations or being told that a particular career path isn't for them. The NDSN is here to turbo charge the necessary positive change the community and indeed society needs on an unprecedented scale.”
Sailesh Mehta from Red Lion Chambers, said: "One key aim of the NDSN is to "level the playing field" by ensuring students from diverse backgrounds have equality of opportunity. Being a student-led organisation augurs well for its future."
NDSN is currently led by a student committee and board of advisers. The Network is targeted at students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and those with an interest in equality, diversity and inclusiveness within education and the professions.
Find out more about the NDSN and how to join here.