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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Outcome agreements

Embedding equality in Scottish Funding Council outcome agreements.

All colleges, HEIs and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) have a legal duty to mainstream equality across their work under the Equality Act 2010 public sector equality duty Scottish duties. The duties also require delivery of institutions’ published equality outcomes by April 2017. Outcome agreements are a key vehicle through which institutions and the SFC can evidence they are meeting the duties alongside SFC’s strategic aims and also ensuring equality is aligned and integrated within core business plans and activities.

Equality continues to be a key requirement in outcome agreements and the SFC has further enhanced its approach to equality by emphasising this should be evidenced as a ‘cross cutting theme’ within the agreements.

To complement the SFC’s guidance for 2017-20 outcome agreements, ECU has produced briefings for each sector to help institutions fulfill these enhanced equality requirements.

Equality requirements 2017-20

SFC requires HEIs to demonstrate their fulfillment of the equality duties in their 2017 – 20 outcome agreements through:

  • undertaking equality impact assessment of their outcome agreement
  • identifying alignment with institutional equality and diversity activities and applying a ‘cross-cutting’ approach to mainstream equality within their outcome agreement

In addition, SFC sets specific equality priorities for each sector.

Specific equality priorities for colleges and college regions >

Inclusivity and widening access

Evidence of an inclusive approach, based on fair and accessible opportunities for all and addressing barriers to access and success for those from protected characteristic groups.

This includes consideration of equality requirements within key sector strategies and developments:

  • identifying and addressing underrepresentation issues and differences in retention and attainment of protected characteristic groups
  • improving disclosure and data collection
  • reducing gender imbalances for learners within particular subject areas
  • supporting students and staff who are carers
  • working with partners to improve participation and employability for disabled students in particular, and those within other protected characteristic groups, such as black and minority ethnic students
  • developing plans to support the British Sign Language (BSL) Act (Scotland)
  • consideration of race equality in the context of the government’s race equality strategy

Promoting gender equality for staff, including:

  • highlighting how colleges and regions are proactively promoting gender equality for staff through delivery of their equality duties
  • addressing gender imbalances at senior academic level
  • working towards elimination of the gender pay gap, as a key requirement of the equality duties

In addition, identifying areas of underrepresentation for other protected characteristic groups and demonstrating measures being taken to address these is highlighted as an overarching requirement as part of the priorities for high performing institutions.

Meeting equality and diversity within governance requirements

  • ensuring compliance with legislative equality requirements and addressing the gender balance of the college’s or region’s boards
Specific equality priorities for HEIs: >

Inclusivity and widening access: Evidence of an inclusive approach, based on fair and accessible opportunities for all and widening access for those from protected characteristic groups to include:

  • addressing improvements in gender balance in imbalanced subjects and addressing gender imbalances in retention
  • supporting students and staff who are carers
  • development of plans to support the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act
  • identifying and promoting improved graduate entry employability for specific learners groups including students with disabilities

Promoting gender equality for staff: including those at senior academic level

Meeting equality and diversity within governance requirements: ensuring compliance with legislative equality requirements and addressing the gender balance of boards.