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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Equality and diversity projects and publications

Robust evidence helps us identify equality trends, issues and gaps at a sector level.  We work with key partners, we collate and analyse data and we produce, commission and fund guidance and research.

A full list of HEFCE's publications and research and evaluation reports are available.

We support work in the following areas:


Equality Challenge Unit

We work with, and provide funding to, the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) to provide a central source of expertise, research, advice and leadership on equality and diversity. 

ECU own and manage the Athena SWAN Charter. The Charter recognises commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in academia.  

Higher Education Statistics Agency

We work with HESA to ensure the way they collect data includes standards for the collection of equality characteristics. This means HEIs can submit data in a standardised format that can be benchmarked.   

Higher Education Academy

We work with and provide funding to the Higher Education Academy to promote equality and diversity in the curriculum.

‌‌‌Leadership Foundation

We work with, and provide funding to, the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education to promote equality and diversity in leadership.

Through the Leadership, Governance and Management (LGM) Fund, we funded a series of equality and diversity projects in the HE sector.

These have included, for example, projects exploring the experience of black and minority ethnic staff in higher education, gender and workload allocation, religious literacy in leadership and managing age diversity.

The LGM Fund is now closed but our Catalyst Fund is open to equality-related proposals.  ‌

Research Excellence Framework

‌We work to promote equality and diversity in the Research Excellence Framework.


We work to promote equality and diversity in research careers. Vitae champions the professional and career development of postgraduate researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes. ‌

Higher education workforce

We work to promote equality & diversity in the HE workforce.

Our workforce framework looks at the key issues and challenges, and supports HEIs’ understanding of overall trends.

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.

Page last updated 11 October 2016

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