New equality protected characteristics
Where we have identified gaps in our evidence base, we are working to fill them. For example, we worked with HESA to put in place a voluntary category from 2012-13 for the equality protected characteristics introduced under the Equality Act 2010 (religion & belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy & maternity).
Although we collected this information internally for all staff at HEFCE, we do not currently hold this information about the sector. The new HESA fields allow higher education institutions to return data about their staff and students in this area should they be in a position to do so.
We are also working with the Equality Challenge Unit and will engage with our stakeholder groups to ensure that where we are implementing policies likely to have a larger impact on these protected groups, there is a sufficient evidence base.
The impact of the HE reforms
We carried out, and published the first comprehensive analysis of, the impact of the 2012 changes to higher education funding. When patterns of demand become more established we can analyse the longer-term trends and impacts. A new HEFCE observatory was established in 2013 to continue to monitor these and other issues.