1.1 Aston University is committed to equality of opportunity and has in place an Equal Opportunities Policy for Employment and a Policy on Equal Opportunities for Students.
1.2 Sections 23 and 24 of the University's Charter of Incorporation state that:-
"No religious, racial or political test shall be imposed upon any person in order to entitle him or her to be admitted as a Member of the University or hold office therein or to graduate thereat or to hold advantage or privilege thereof.
In support of the above statement,
Aston University confirms its commitment to pursuing a comprehensive policy of equal opportunities in employment in which individuals are selected, promoted and otherwise treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities and are given equal opportunities within the University. So far as reasonably practicable and within the law, no-one shall receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, family circumstances, disability, colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins, religious or political beliefs, or be disadvantaged by conditions or requirements that cannot be shown to be justifiable.
Extract from Policy, Code of Practice and Guidelines on Equal Opportunities in Employment
Aston University will endeavour not to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against students or potential students on the grounds of gender, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religious or political beliefs, disability, marital status or family circumstances, sexual orientation, age, ex-offender status, social class, HIV status or any other irrelevant criteria.
Extract from Policy on Equal Opportunities for Students
1.3 The Race Equality Policy reaffirms the University’s commitment to pursuing an environment free from unlawful racial discrimination and to build upon the existing policies and codes of practice designed to assist this objective.
1.4 Effective implementation of the University’s Race Equality Policy will ensure that:
1.5 The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 places a statutory general duty on the University to aim to:
1.6 In addition to the statutory general duties the Act also places specific duties on the University which aim to assist us in fulfilling our general duties, the specific duties are to:
1.7 The Race Equality Policy and the associated action plan sets out the University’s commitment to ensuring that we meet our statutory duties and that the principle and spirit of race equality is incorporated into relevant and appropriate procedure and practice.
1.8 The University acknowledges the possibility of institutional racism and will, through a range of objectives, including mainstreaming race equality, effective leadership at senior level and an effective action plan, endeavour to put in place action to combat its existence.
The Lawrence Report redefined institutional racism as ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes or behaviour which amounts to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people’
1.9 Every member of staff and every student will be made aware of his or her individual responsibility to ensure that the Race Equality Policy is effective.
1.10 The University will ensure that contractors, agencies and service providers are aware of the Race Equality Policy and are able to comply with its contents.
1.11 The University recognises that the Race Equality Policy and the Action Plan are part of a process of continuous development and improvement and that regular review is essential to the success of implementing the Policy.
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The Race Relations Act 1976 - amended by
The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
makes it unlawful to to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origin. The amended act strengthens the 1976 Act in that it extends protection against racial discrimination by public authorities and it places a new, enforceable general duty on public authorities.
Direct discrimination – less favourable treatment on racial grounds.
Indirect discrimination – a race neutral requirement that impacts adversely on particular racial group(s) and cannot be justified on non-racial grounds.
Victimisation – less favourable treatment as a result of bringing discrimination proceedings, giving evidence or information in proceedings, making allegations of discrimination or anything else in relation to the RRA.
The CRE is an independent statutory agency and has promotional and enforcement powers. Specifically the CRE will:
The Duty to Promote Race Equality (Commission for Racial Equality 2002)
A Guide for Institutions of Further and Higher Education
Ethnic Monitoring - A Guide for Public Authorities
The code of practice is a ‘statutory’ code. This means that the code is admissible as evidence in any legal action, and a court or tribunal should take the codes’ recommendations into account.
3.1 A Race Equality Working Group was established to plan and develop Race Equality Policy and the Action Plan.
3.2 The Race Equality Working Group is responsible for:
Identifying which University functions are relevant to the statutory duties under the RRA
Drafting the University’s Race Equality Policy and the associated Action Plan
Recommending initial priorities for the identified functions within the Action Plan
3.3 The Race Equality Working Group reports to the Equal Opportunities Employment Forum and the Equal Opportunities Academic and Student Forum as appropriate.
3.4 The Race Equality Working Group is chaired by the Acting Head Of School of Life and Health Sciences and has the following membership:
3.5 Once the initial project is completed The Race Equality Working Group will be disestablished and replaced by a Race Equality Steering Group, chaired by a senior member of academic staff, with an on-going remit to implement, monitor and review the Race Equality Policy and Action Plan.
3.6 The membership of the Race Equality Steering Group will be determined, via a consultative process, by the two Equal Opportunities Forums.
3.7 The University Council will have overall responsibility for ensuring the University complies with all the Race Relations legislation requirements, including the general and specific duties arising from the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
3.8 It will also be the responsibility of the University Council to actively promote race equality and good race relations and to tackle unlawful racial discrimination.
3.9 The University Council will ensure that the Race Equality Policy is fully implemented, monitored, evaluated and regularly reviewed by introducing the mechanisms outlined in 3.9 – 3.18 of this section.
3.10 The formulation and implementation of the Race Equality Policy and the associated Action Plan will be delegated to the Chair of the Equal Opportunities Employment Forum and the Chair of the Equal Opportunities Academic and Student Issues Forum supported by other appropriate senior officers of the University.
3.11 The Equal Opportunities Employment Forum, chaired by the Secretary-Registrar, will have responsibility for ensuring the Race Equality Policy and associated Action Plan as they relate to employment matters are appropriately implemented, monitored and evaluated/reviewed. The Equal Opportunities Employment Forum reports to the Personnel and Employment Committee through to University Council. Terms of Reference and membership for the Forum are attached to this Policy.
3.12 The Equal Opportunities Academic and Student Forum, chaired by a Head of a School of Study, will have responsibility for ensuring the Race Equality Policy and associated Action Plan as they relate to academic and student support issues are appropriately implemented, monitored and evaluated/reviewed. The Equal Opportunities Academic and Student Support Forum reports to the Student Affairs Committee, through to the Senate and University Council.
3.13 The two Equal Opportunities Forum’s shall normally meet twice a year.
3.14 The Race Equality Steering Group (see 3.5) will be responsible for:
3.15 The Race Equality Steering Group will report to the two Equal Opportunities Forums as appropriate.
3.16 The Equal Opportunities Adviser will be given responsibility for coordinating the administration, implementation, monitoring and evaluation/review process and for producing an annual report, incorporating the Race Equality Policy and Action Plan implementation progress, to University Council in consultation with the appropriate consultative forum.
3.17 The University Council will, through the reporting mechanism be regularly informed, of the progress of the implementation, monitoring and evaluation/review process.
3.18 Each employee and student of the University will be issued with a copy of the University's Race Equality Policy and a summary of the Action Plan and will be made aware of his or her individual responsibility to ensure that the policy is effective.
3.19 Confidential advice and support can be gained from the following routes if a member of staff believes that they have been subject to unlawful racial discrimination or racial harassment:
Director of Human Resources
Equal Opportunities Adviser
Trade Union Representatives
3.20 Confidential advice and support can be gained from the following routes if a student believes that they have been subject to unlawful racial discrimination or racial harassment:
Head of Student Services
Welfare Services Manager
Students Advice Centre – Students Guild
Welfare and Education Officer – Students Guild
General Manager – Students Guild
3.21 Members of staff and/or students who fail to comply with the Race Equality Policy will be subject to the appropriate University procedures including if necessary the University’s disciplinary procedures.
4.1 The Race Equality Steering Group will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate consultation procedures are adopted at relevant stages of the planning, implementation, monitoring and review processes.
4.2 A Race Focus Group for staff will be established, with the following remit:
4.3 The Race Focus Group will be made up of voluntary members from University staff.
4.4 The Students’ Guild Equalities Committee will be expanded to include a Race Focus Group for students
4.5 The Race Focus Group for Students will have the following remit:
4.6 Staff and Students will also be consulted on an extensive basis where it is felt that the focus groups are not able to provide a sufficiently broad consultative method.
4.7 The University will in this case use a range of consultative routes, for example,
4.8 The Race Equality Steering Group will be responsible for approving appropriate consultative methods and for ensuring that the results of consultations are fed into the relevant process.
4.9 The University will publish the results of consultations (see 10.3)
4.10 The University will review its informal and formal communication methods to ensure that staff and students from different racial groups have access to information and that communication methods are effective.
To include a statement of numbers of staff by ethnic origin
The general duty to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good relations between people of difficult racial groups must be applied to all the University’s relevant functions and policies.
We have identified the relevant functions and policies as they apply to all staff employment below:
The University undertakes to assess each of the identified functions, policies and procedures for their impact on staff from different ethnic groups.
A schedule for undertaking this assessment is outlined in the Race Equality Action Plan.
The proportionate relevance of these functions, policies and procedures to race equality is identified in the Race Equality Action Plan.
To include a statement of numbers of students by ethnic origin
The general duty to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good relations between people of difficult racial groups must be applied to all the University’s relevant functions and policies. We have identified the relevant functions and policies as they apply to academic and student issues below:
The University undertakes to assess each of the identified functions, policies and procedures for their impact on students from different ethnic groups.
7.1 All members of staff and all students will be issued with a copy of the Race Equality Policy and a summary of the Action Plan, and will be made aware of his or her responsibility to ensure that the policy is effective.
7.2 All members of staff who have specific responsibilities for managing and implementing the Race Equality Policy will have specific training in race equality issues. The action plan will identify members of staff who will have specific responsibility.
7.3 Members the Equal Opportunities Forums will undertake specific training in race equality issues.
7.4 All senior staff members of the University will be made aware of their responsibilities as defined under the legislation relating to race equality.
7.5 All members of staff and all students will be kept informed of the progress made in implementing the race equality policy and action plan through:
7.6 The Equal Opportunities Unit will, as indicated in the Equal Opportunities Action Plan 2001-2002, devise a programme of awareness sessions on specific equal opportunities issues, which will include racism awareness and cultural diversity.
7.7 The Race Equality Action Plan will define a timetable for training and awareness.
8.1 The Equal Opportunities Unit currently monitors, by racial group, all current staff in post and applicants for posts.
8.2 The Equal Opportunities Unit is responsible for the collection, input and maintenance of the monitoring data.
8.3 A monitoring audit was undertaken in 1996/97 and repeated in 2001/02. Current members of staff were requested to complete an equal opportunities monitoring form with details of their ethnic background.
8.4 The Equal Opportunities Unit produces analysis as required by the Equal Opportunities Employment Forum or the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Group (see 8.6).
8.5 A summary of monitoring information is provided to the University Council on an annual basis as part of the equal opportunities annual report.
8.6 The Equal Opportunities Monitoring Group, chaired by the Head of School for Languages and European Studies is tasked with overseeing the development and management of the equal opportunities databases and with identifying the most appropriate methods of implementing the monitoring projects approved by the Equal Opportunities Employment Forum. The group also oversees the implementation of the monitoring projects.
8.7 The Equal Opportunities Monitoring Group is also responsible for advising the Forum on appropriate external benchmarks.
8.8 The Equal Opportunities Unit has approached other institutions to assess the possibilities of sharing monitoring information and this is being progressed.
8.9 The Equal Opportunities Employment Forum is responsible for identifying priority areas and subsequently identifying project areas for the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Group.
8.10 Members of staff are asked to update their monitoring information including their ethnic background on an annual basis.
8.11 Members of staff will be requested as part of the annual update exercise to identify their ethnic background using the ethnic categories used in the 2001 census. The next update exercise will take place in December 2002.
8.12 The Race Equality Steering Group will be responsible for identifying any further categories appropriate for the University to take account of the University’s population.
8.13 The Equal Opportunities Employment Forum took the decision in 2002 that the provision of monitoring information should be voluntary and that members of staff would not be subject to ‘other-classification’ by management.
8.14 The Race Equality Action Plan identifies further employment areas that will be subject to monitoring such as discipline and grievances and training
8.15 The University’s race equality priorities once established by the Equal Opportunities Employment Forum in conjunction with the other relevant equal opportunities groups will be published in the Race Equality Action Plan and be incorporated into the equal opportunities annual report to the University Council.
8.16 The Equal Opportunities Employment Forum in association with the Monitoring Project Group will be responsible for monitoring progress on the race equality priorities
8.17 Registry and Planning Services, in cooperation with the Schools of Study, is currently responsible for collecting, inputting and recording student data which includes racial group.
8.18 The information is used internally and externally to provide information for HESA returns and Quality Assurance Audits.
8.19 The University is reviewing the production of statistics and considering how statistical reports may be enhanced, it is proposed that this project will include a review of the processes in place for collecting monitoring data by racial group for students.
8.20 The review of this process will be placed as a priority within the Race Equality Action Plan.
8.21 The University will through a partnership approach between the Equal Opportunities Unit, the Equal Opportunities Academic and Student Forum, Registry and Planning Services and the Schools of Study, introduce appropriate procedures to monitor and analyse student data in relation to the admissions process and students’ achievements and progress.
8.22 The Equal Opportunities Academic and Student Forum will be responsible for co-coordinating the University’s approach to monitoring student equal opportunities data.
9.1 The University undertakes to regularly review the Race Equality Policy and the Action Plan.
9.2 The Action Plan will set out the priorities and timescales for completion for the impact assessments and the Race Equality Steering Group will be responsible for ensuring that the timescales are adhered to.
9.3 The Race Equality Steering Group will meet once per term and will be responsible for monitoring progress in the implementation of the Race Equality Policy and the Action Plan and for providing regular progress reports to the Equal Opportunities Forums.
9.4 The Race Equality Steering Group will be required to produce an annual report to the University Council through the appropriate Equal Opportunities Forum outlining progress made in implementing the policy and action plan.
9.5 The annual report will outline progress made in achieving the objectives set in the action plan.
9.6 The Equality Advisory Service will undertake a review of the University’s equal opportunities strategy including our approach to implementing the Race Equality Policy in July 2002 and the subsequent report will assist us in the evaluation and review process.
9.7 The University recognises that the Race Equality Policy and the Action Plan are part of a process of continuous development and improvement and that regular review is essential to the success of implementing the Policy.
10.1 The University will publish the Race Equality Policy as follows:
10.2 The University will publish the results of impact assessments as follows:
The results of the impact assessments will be available in summary form on the University’s Equal Opportunities website as above and in hard copy from the University’s Equal Opportunities Unit.
10.3 The University will publish the results of consultations including:
The results of consultations will be available on the University’s Equal Opportunities website as above and in hard copy available from the Equal Opportunities Unit. A copy of the results of consultations would also be made available in an appropriate format to any involved external body.
The results of consultations will be reported to the appropriate Equal Opportunities Forum and appropriate committee, e.g. Personnel and Employment Committee, Student Affairs Committee.
The results of consultations will also be reported to University Council on an appropriate basis, i.e. either as part of a specific report or as part of the Equal Opportunities Annual Report.
10.4 The University will publish the results of monitoring including:
The summary results of the monitoring data will be available on the University’s Equal Opportunities website as above and in hard copy available from the Equal Opportunities Unit. The summary results of the monitoring data would also be available to other external bodies or institutions where we had agreed use of benchmarking/comparative data on a reciprocal basis, e.g. other institutions, HESA.
The results of the monitoring data will be used by the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Working Group to recommend to the appropriate Equal Opportunities Forum priorities for action, (note Equal Opportunities Monitoring Working Party terms of reference – attached).
11.1 The Equal Opportunities Action Plan identifies developing partnerships with communities as an objective for the year 2001 –2002
11.2 The Equal Opportunities Unit will identify through the action plan a strategic approach to encourage the participation as appropriate of local community groups in the activities of the University.
11.3 The University’s Code of Practice: Meetings held on University Premises states that ‘Under Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act, 1986, the University is now required to "take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers." The University may not deny the use of its premises to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with their beliefs or views, or their policy and objectives’…’The University is, however, required to operate within the terms of its Charter and Statutes, and to observe its other legal obligations. A speaker, for example, who incites an audience to violence or to breach of the peace or to racial hatred exceeds the bounds of lawful speech. Equally, assemblies of persons, even if directed to lawful purposes, cease to be lawful if they cause serious public disorder or breaches of the peace’.
11.4 The University aims through the Widening Participation Strategy 2001/02 – 2003/4 to ‘contribute to the local community through outreach with local schools and colleges, including work in Excellence in Cities (EiC0 and Education Action Zone (EAZ) areas and to ‘reach out to pupils, teachers, parents and careers advisers at a national and regional level’. See the ‘Good practice in Place at Aston’ section of this document for more information on some of the outreach projects.
12.1 LES Year Abroad project Research project to determine the impact of the compulsory year abroad upon the recruitment of Asian females. Resources have been developed as an outcome of this project include a Languages for Life website.www.les.aston.ac.uk/langlife. Contact: Annie Bannerman, LES
12.2 We have a part-time Careers post in the Careers Service to develop career management skills and offer specialist support to students from under represented groups. This could include ethnic minority groups. Contact: Stewart Comfort, SCL
12.3 Employability for All A longitudinal survey of the placement process to be conducted by Aston Business School to ensure that students from all ethnic and social groups, and schools with a range of entry requirements are not being disadvantaged in their job seeking or during their placement year. Possible matched funding from Ford. Contact: Helen Higson, ABS
12.4 Outreach Office promotes the Birmingham Mentoring Scheme which involves same and cross-race mentoring, and a community project. Contact: Mandy Ingleby, SCL
12.5 Good Practice Guide Staff Development produced a good practice guide: Widening Participation Through Teaching, Learning And Student SupportA resource-based guide to examples from current practice
Cultural Diversity UK and International StudentsAston Examples
Languages and European Studies (LES) has arranged for Muslim women students to stay with a family when undertaking a placement. This may be more acceptable to a student's family than a hall of residence or a rented house with other students.
LES points out that teaching assistants in French schools are not permitted to demonstrate any religious affiliation through their dress (for example veils or turbans). Students need to be aware of this if they are considering taking up a placement abroad, although alternative types of placement are available where there are no limitations on dress.
The Optometry programme arranges class tests and other timetabled events to avoid clashing with particular religious festivals and tutorial times have been changed to avoid daily prayer times. The QAA subject review for Optometry commended the programme for being 'sensitive to the particular needs of ethnically diverse students.'
Several programmes have reviewed their methods for allocating students to groups for small group work, or to a personal tutor. Allowing students to select their own group, or allocating groups via an alphabetical list of surnames, can divide students into ethnic groups, for example, Patel, Smith and Singh. Allocating students into groups randomly or deliberately encouraging a cultural mix has been found to work effectively.
The School of Languages and European Studies accepts community language A-levels, for example Urdu. Ability in a community language demonstrates that students have the ability to learn languages and may find it easier to learn others.
The Barrow and Geraldine S Cadbury Trust and the Peterkin Trust are trust funds managed by the university to help international students in financial hardship. The Raman Mistry Bursary and ABS Fee Remission Scheme are also to help international students and are administered by Welfare Services. Applications should be made via Welfare Services.
Business School postgraduate students, whose first language is not English, attend an academic writing course in term one. Each year there are approximately 60 students (split into five or six groups) who attend the course for two hours each week for six weeks. Topics covered include academic reading and writing.
Language support classes for overseas students began in 1999-2000. These classes are funded by overseas fee income so students do not have to pay an additional fee. Students are referred on to this course by their tutors. The course is held for 2 hours per week, for 6 weeks each term.
Business School foundation students (these are international students) from Coventry Technical College come on to campus every week on a Friday, to help introduce them to university life so they feel more prepared for year one. Topics covered include Library and IT skills and an introduction to Birmingham.
LES also has ACES students - these are mainly French and German exchange students (around 80 per year). As well as the courses that these students attend in LES, or the Business School if exchanging with IBML students, the students take language classes based on oral skills, cultural studies and writing skills. Students must sit a test in the second term and they receive a certificate if they pass.
Civil Engineering has quite large numbers of Greek students so discussions about relevant legislation have had to cover the laws of other countries. EU law increasingly applies, which is relevant to UK and Greek students.
Business School undergraduate international students have a special induction session covering issues such as differences in learning styles, how the course works, group and individual work (including plagiarism issues) open and closed book exams, and teaching methods such as lectures. Exchange students also have their own induction session.
Full-time MBA students, many of whom are international, have a session which is run by consultants early in the year. The students work in the groups they will work in all year, which are deliberately a mixture of cultures and nationalities. The purpose of this session is to confront and discuss the cultural issues that might inhibit good team working. By addressing potential problems at the start, the students are then able to work together much more effectively for the rest of the year. Follow-up sessions take place later in the year.
The Guild has numerous cultural and religious societies and has organised a faith session and a world week.
Registry and Planning Services invite students to inform them of any religious/cultural needs at the beginning of the academic year so that they can endeavour to meet them.
Aston has a full-time International Student Adviser supported by five volunteer International Student Advisors, who all have other jobs within the University. They can be contacted on extension 5311 between 12.30pm and 2.00pm each weekday. The International Student Adviser is based in Welfare Services.
A number of initiatives to support international students have been developed in recent years by the International Office. These include: a guarantee of accommodation throughout the programme, a "meet and greet" scheme at Birmingham Airport, a guide and video, a pre-departure booklet, a scholarship scheme, a welcome programme, fixed fees for the duration of the programme and fee payment by installments.
The Centre for Staff and Academic Practice Development has organised training sessions for Business School staff on cultural diversity and awareness.
13.1 This policy should be read in conjunction with the University’s Policy, Code of Practice and Guidelines on Equal Opportunities in Employment and the associated Equal Opportunities annual action plan.
13.2 Both of these documents can be accessed on the equal opportunities website –www.aston.ac.uk/hr/equalops or hard copies are available from the Equal Opportunities Unit.
13.3 This policy should also be read in conjunction with the Policy on Equal Opportunities for Students which can be accessed on the Registry & Planning website –
13.4 The University’s Widening Participation Strategy can be accessed on www.aston.ac.uk/intercom/widening.
13.5 The Commission for Racial Equality have a wealth of information and advice concerning race issues and their website can be accessed on www.cre.gov.uk.
The following glossary is taken from the CRE statutory Code of Practice for the Duty to Promote Race Equality.
Action Plan - a practical and realistic plan, with an agreed timetable, showing how an authority is planning to meet its duties.
Consultation- asking for views on policies or services from staff, colleagues, service users or the general public.
Direct Discrimination- treating one person less favourably than another on racial grounds. Direct discrimination is unlawful under the Race Relations Act 1976.
Duty to Promote Race Equality- the general duty (see below), unless the context suggests otherwise.
Ethnic Monitoring- the process of collecting and analysing information about people's racial or ethnic origins to see whether all groups are fairly represented.
Focus Groups- various forms of face-to-face consultation with members of the public, service users, or others.
Functions- the full range of a public authority's duties and powers.
General Duty- public authorities should have 'due regard to the need', in everything they do, to:
Impact Assessments- a systematic way of finding out whether a policy (or proposed policy) affects different racial groups differently. This may include obtaining and analysing data and consulting people, including staff, on the policy.
Indirect Racial Discrimination- a rule or condition which is applied equally to everyone can be met by a considerably smaller proportion of people from a particular racial group; the rule is to their disadvantage; and the condition or rule cannot be justified on non-racial grounds. All three conditions must apply.
positive action- actions permitted by the Race Relations Act 1976 that allow a person to:
Proportionate- weight given to Race Equality should be proportionate to its relevance to a particular function.
Race Equality Policy- a written statement of an establishment’s policy on race equality, which is put into practice and monitored.
Racial Group- a group of people defined by their race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origins.
Specific Duty- a duty imposed by the Race Relations Act 1976 (Statutory Duties) Order 2001. Examples of specific duties include; preparing and implementing a race equality policy, assessing policy and practice and monitoring and publishing relevant information.
Statutory Codes of Practice- a document, which offers practical guidance on the law, has been approved by parliament, and is admissible in evidence in a court of law.
Victimisation- victimising someone because they have made a complaint of racial discrimination, or are thought to have done so; or because they have supported someone else who has made a complaint of racial discrimination.