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Inclusion, equality and diversity

​We support and promote life-changing opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds at every university.

Graduation ceremony
Universities support upward and lateral social mobility by improving opportunities and life chances for individuals, they facilitate economic growth by ensuring a workforce with high-level skills, and they deliver a range of public sector benefits to UK society as a whole. 

The knowledge and skills that universities help people acquire also help people to change career, and adapt to technological and social change.

Supporting social mobility​ - higher education report published     

Universities transform lives. Going to university leads to new ways of seeing the world, to new horizons and networks, and to significantly enhanced job opportunities. But not everyone benefits in the same way. In 2015, Universities UK, working collaboratively with universities, students, schools, vocational training and further education colleges, third sector organisations and employers, set up the Social Mobility Advisory Group​ to support universities in widening access and increasing participation in higher education so that everyone can benefit from it, irrespective of their individual background and circumstances. ​

The Group met on 3 occasions, and following extensive analysis, evidence gathering and input from experts, published a report in October 2016 with recommendations for universities to improve social mobility. These include recommendations to:

  • improve the use of data in driving future developments
  • a greater priority on communications - to students of all ages
  • more effective evaluation of policies and interventions
  • a focus on 'what works' underpinned by a robust and systematic use of the evidence. 

The report also highlights the increasing focus on universities working with partners in their regions to develop sustained initiatives that align with broader regional agendas including the new government opportunity areas published in January 2017.

UUK is now working with universities and others including schools, employers and third sector organisations to support implementation. A sector-wide report on progress will be published at the end of 2017.         

Promoting equality and diversity 

The term 'equality and diversity' describes an approach that values difference and treats each individual fairly and with dignity and respect, free from harassment and bullying.

We believe that a diverse and inclusive organisational culture – one in which everyone feels valued and can learn or work to their full potential – makes for a more effective and productive higher education workforce. 

New report published by the Department of Education offers guidance to support disabled students

In January 2017, the Department for Education published Inclusive teaching and learning in higher education providing good practice guidance to help universities support their disabled students. The guidance has been produced by the Disabled Student Sector Leadership Group, chaired by Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton and supported by Universities UK and the Department for Education. The guidance builds on the work and good practice already in place across universities to support disabled students to succeed. The Social Mobility Advisory Report encouraged universities to review the guidance (see Recommendation 14). 

UUK Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting students  

The taskforce was established in September 2015 to support universities in both preventing and developing an effective response to gender-based violence, harassment and hate crime. The taskforce - made up of university leaders, student representatives and academic experts, met four times, and on the basis of an analysis of the evidence identified a range of recommendations to support universities in adopting an institution-wide approach, embed effective preventative measures and maximise the support provided to students. These were set out in its report, ‘Changing the Culture’, published in October 2016. Alongside the report, new guidance was published to support universities in managing situations where a student’s behaviour may constitute a criminal offence.  

Alongside supporting the sector to implement the recommendations Universities UK is continuing work in this area including  exploring the issues relating to the prevention and response of staff on student harassment and the development of a directory of case-studies to support the sharing of good practice.

Other work includes working closely with the Equality Challenge Unit, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and HEFCE to raise awareness of the rationale and benefits of improving diversity in higher education leadership

Universities UK response to government consultation on part-time undergraduate maintenance loans

17 December 2016
We welcome the proposed introduction of part-time undergraduate maintenance loans, and the positive direction of travel that they represent in relation to government policy towards part-time study.

Universities UK’s response to the government consultation, 'Schools that work for everyone'

12 December 2016
We support the government’s wish to raise standards and attainment in the school system and in doing so improve social mobility. This can be achieved through a number of partnership and engagement mechanisms with schools.

social mobility advisory group front cover

Changing the culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students

21 October 2016
The report of the Universities UK Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students examines the evidence considered by the taskforce and makes a series of recommendations for universities and UUK.

social mobility advisory group front cover

Guidance for higher education institutions: how to handle alleged student misconduct

21 October 2016
The report of the Universities UK Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students examines the evidence considered by the taskforce and makes a series of recommendations for universities and UUK.

social mobility advisory group front cover

Working in partnership: enabling social mobility in higher education – the final report of the Social Mobility Advisory Group

10 October 2016
The final report of the Social Mobility Advisory group identifies practical ways to address inequality in higher education. It calls for universities to work closely with schools, colleges, employers, students’ unions and charities.

Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students: progress report no. 3

23 June 2016
Report of the third meeting of the taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students, on 10 June 2016.

Report of UUK-NUS roundtable on social action

8 June 2016
University vice-chancellors and other higher education leaders came together to discuss how to support the #iwill campaign’s 2020 goal of ensuring over 60% of 10–20-year-olds are engaging in meaningful social action.

Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime: Report on the national seminar to inform the Taskforce’s work

19 April 2016
Universities UK (UUK) hosted a national day-long seminar to inform the work of its Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students.

Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students: progress report no. 2

6 April 2016
Report of the second meeting of the taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students, on 16 March 2016.

Social Mobility Advisory Group: progress report 1

4 March 2016
Universities, government and employers are encouraged to develop degree apprenticeships in this report published during National Apprenticeship Week 2016.

Blogs

Sexual abuse and harassment by university staff against students – further work to address the issue

3 February 2017
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, discusses further work to be done to address sexual abuse and harassment by university staff against students.

The Stand Alone Pledge: understanding the challenges for estranged students

6 January 2017
Susan Mueller, Project Director HE at Stand Alone, explains the challenges for estranged students

News

Record numbers of 18-year-olds accepted to university in 2016

14 December 2016
UCAS figures released today show that more UK 18 year olds than ever before gained a place at university this year (2016/17).

Taskforce publishes recommendations to universities on dealing with violence against women and harassment

20 October 2016
Universities UK published recommendations to universities today on dealing with violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students.

The team

Emily Darian

Emily Darian

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

Eleanor Jubb

Eleanor Jubb

Policy Analyst
Universities UK

Fiona Waye

Fiona Waye

Senior Policy Lead - Inclusion, Equality and Diversity
Universities UK