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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


ECU’s Research team undertakes both internally and externally commissioned research, supporting other ECU teams and the sector. Together, we possess a wide array of expertise in cross-sectional, longitudinal, quasi-experimental and experimental research designs, using a variety of methods including surveys, focus groups, interviews, cases studies, naturalistic observation, and systematic reviews.

Internal projects

Annual statistical reports

Every year, ECU’s Research team produces a series of statistical reports on equality for staff and students in UK higher education, and for students in further education colleges in Scotland, using comprehensive data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Equality in higher education: statistical report 2017 (based on 2015/16 data)

Equality in colleges in Scotland: statistical report 2017 (based on 2015/16 data)

Research and data briefings

The ECU research team publishes quarterly briefings to introduce practitioners and other officials working in equality and diversity in the higher education sector to research methodologies and considerations.

Research and data briefing 1: working with data

Research and data briefing 2: intersectional approaches to equality research and data

Research and data briefing 3: ethics in primary research (focus groups, interviews and surveys)

Research and data briefing 4: Reflexivity, positioning yourself in equality and diversity research

Research insights

The ECU Research team has recently launched a new series of reports that are meant to comment or provide new information about underrepresented groups that are often under-researched. The first of this series is an insight into the experiences of STEMM academics who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Additional internal research initiatives

The Research team also support other ECU teams by providing data and insight for policy reports, consultancy and training, developing templates for equality charters applications, developing data protection policies and resources, producing infographics etc, in addition to providing bespoke consultancy services such as research and evaluation methods training.

For instance, we created a series of infographics on LGB staff and student data to support work by our Policy team.

Externally-funded projects

ASSET 2016

ECU was commissioned to conduct the 2016 Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET), exploring experiences of gender equality in STEMM academia (funded by the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society of Biology and the Academy of Medical Sciences). The full report (as well as a summary report) are available here, while more detailed reports on individual disciplines are published here.


GENDER-NET was designed to address the common challenges facing European research institutions in achieving gender equality in research and innovation. The report shares the results of research undertaken to understand the impact of eight award schemes aimed at advancing gender equality, including the Athena SWAN Charter, and their ability to stimulate gender equality and enact structural change in research institutions.

ECU is a partner on this project, a European Research Area Network (ERA-NET) funded by the European Commission under the Science in Society work programme of the seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Bespoke research for institutions, organisations and other societies

The breadth of experience and expertise on ECU’s Research team has allowed us to conduct bespoke research for individual institutions and other public bodies such as the NHS. For all inquiries about our bespoke work, please contact