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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges

Positive action

Initiatives to overcome the effects of historic discrimination.

Positive action refers to steps that HEIs and colleges can take to encourage people from different groups in order to overcome historic disadvantage, or low participation education, training and welfare.

The Equality Act 2010 harmonised positive action across the different protected characteristics.

These voluntary positive action measures must aim to alleviate disadvantage experienced by people who share a protected characteristic, reduce underrepresentation in relation to particular activities, and meet particular needs. Such measures must be proportionate to achieving the aim. The use of targeted advertising to encourage underrepresented groups to apply to work at the institution is one example.

In Northern Ireland the positive or affirmative action provisions vary for different protected characteristics.