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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.

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion   

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. 

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.

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.

Taskforce meeting

Taskforce to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students: progress report no. 1

17 November 2015
UUK taskforce on violence against women, harassment and hate crime summary note of first meeting

Breaking down the barriers report cover

Breaking down the barriers to Student Opportunities and Youth Social Action

1 July 2015
A framework to help students’ unions and universities working together to reduce or remove barriers around student volunteering.

Student mental wellbeing in higher education: good practice guide report cover

Student mental wellbeing in higher education: good practice guide

13 February 2015
For the teaching and support of students experiencing mental health difficulties was commissioned by us and produced by the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Working Group.

Power of part-time report cover

The power of part-time: review of part-time and mature higher education

16 October 2013
There were nearly half a million people in the UK studying part-time at undergraduate level in 2011-12, making up 29% of the UK undergraduate population. Yet across the sector, numbers are declining.

Access for all report cover

Access for all

8 July 2013
Access for All uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) for the years 2004-2009.

Save study abroad campaign


An urgent campaign to encourage the UK government to commit to funding study abroad opportunities in case of a no-deal Brexit.


Improving student retention

13 Jun 2019, 09:30 - 17:00


Women studying

University disciplinary processes under the microscope

8 February 2019
Ian Hynes, CEO of Intersol Global, discusses steps universities can take to improve their disciplinary processes.

Improving access, success and progression in English higher education

18 December 2018
UUK's Dan Wake explains the potential impact of the OfS' consultation on access and participation regulation for universities and students.


Tackling gaps in BME students' achievements at university

6 June 2018
Announcing an initiative between UUK and the NUS to help universities tackle the BME attainment gap.

University entrants remain highly qualified

4 June 2018
An analysis published by Universities UK shows that the growth in student numbers has not led to university entrants having lower qualifications.

The team

Daniel Hurley

Dan Hurley

Policy Manager
Universities UK

Fiona Waye

Fiona Waye

Senior Policy Lead - Inclusion, Equality and Diversity
Universities UK