Inclusion, equality and diversity

As part of our broader commitment to promoting equality and advancing opportunity, we are responsible for monitoring HEI’s progress with regard to equality and diversity. This forms part of our role as a funder and a regulator, and our commitment to protecting students’ interest in higher education (HE).

This means that we will take an enhanced interest in supporting equal access and fair treatment for all students, as far as this is possible within our powers, recognising the responsibilities to HEIs themselves.

We carry out this responsibility through a range of activities.

Ethnicity and degree attainment

We are currently working with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) to see how we can address the difference in degree attainment between students from different ethnic groups. 

The programme of work will carry out research with a range of higher education institutions. This research will look at the following areas:

  • curriculum
  • assessment
  • learning and teaching practice.

In doing so, it will clarify how far positive changes in each area can bring about changes in degree attainment and also in  student retention and success.

We will support this research with an expert and practitioner summit, an external advisory group and a dissemination event in summer 2012.

Improving learning and teaching for disabled students

Enhancing provision for disabled students in HE forms another strand of activities to monitor and support equality and diversity in the HE sector.

We aim to achieve this enhanced provision by: 

  • supporting higher and further education institutions in this area
  • maintaining the overall stability of our funding to them
  • ensuring that consideration of disabled students informs the broader equality, learning and teaching and student opportunity agendas.

 Funding for disabled students takes the form of an annual disability allocation to institutions, which in turn forms part of our broader student opportunity allocation. Institutions receive this money on an annual basis to help them meet the costs associated with enhanced provision for students in this area. 

Disability Sector Strategy Group

We facilitate this forum which aims to meet two to three times per year to share best practice and feed into HE policy to inform equality in student opportunities. 

Its members include the ECU, the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP), Disability Alliance, the HEA, JISC Techdis and the UK funding councils.

Disability projects funded by HEFCE


Evaluating disability equality schemes in England, ECU

This project is based on previous work commissioned by HEFCW and run by the ECU. The aim of the project is to improve institutional Disability Equality Schemes and support institutions in meeting legislative requirements. The report sets out clear recommendations for action to be taken by senior managers and heads of services, including appropriate training for staff, reviewing policies and practice, communications, involvement of - and consultation with - disabled students and staff, and the setting of objectives and using and reviewing data.


Using data to improve the disabled student experience, ECU

This project was based on a previous ECU project. This review found that:

  • institutions could use data more effectively to support disabled students
  • there was significant variation in the proportion of students declaring a disability at different institutions
  • a number of disabled students were not receiving Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). 

This guidance provides recommendations for HEIs to encourage more disabled students to disclose their impairment and take up DSA entitlements. It includes case studies from institutions which have successfully increased their support for disabled students. 


Page last updated 13 April 2012

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