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Equality legislation

The legal requirements for equality and diversity in universities and colleges in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

In England, Scotland and Wales, the Equality Act 2010 brought together and harmonised equality legislation.

Legislation in Northern Ireland is different and is principally from Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Equality legislation across the UK protects staff and students with the following protected characteristics:

Public sector equality duty

The Equality Act introduced a public sector equality duty in England, Scotland and Wales.
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Positive action

Initiatives to overcome the effects of historic discrimination.
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Equality case law

Case law helps to explain what the legislation means in practice.
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Past projects 


A review of Scottish institutions’ equality reporting in 2015

The public sector equality duty (PSED) came into force on 5 April 2011. It is supported by specific duties for each nation in Great Britain. In Scotland these were commenced on 27 May 2012. Scottish colleges and HEIs are covered by the PSED and the specific duties.

Under the Scottish-specific duties, Scottish colleges and HEIs are required to report on their equality outcomes, progress in mainstreaming equality across their functions, employee equality information and gender pay gap at regular intervals. See Advance HE’s briefing on the Scottish-specific duties for further details of the requirements.

By April 2015, Scottish colleges and HEIs were required to report on their progress in mainstreaming equality and delivering their equality outcomes since 2013, report on employee equality information and on their gender pay gap. Advance HE undertook a review of reporting to understand how well the sector had met the requirements and to identify good practice in reporting.
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