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Higher Education: Equality

Question for Department for Education

UIN 275681, tabled on 10 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of equality and diversity training provided by higher education institutions; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making that training mandatory.

Answered on

15 July 2019

The government is committed to tackling inequalities. That is why, in October 2018, my right. hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, launched measures to tackle barriers facing ethnic minorities in the workplace, including a new Race at Work Charter and a consultation on ethnicity pay reporting.

Like all employers, higher education providers have responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) in relation to their staff. The government expects providers to comply fully with their obligations. As autonomous and independent institutions, it is for individual providers to ensure that the training they provide is appropriate.

The Equality Challenge Unit (part of Advance HE) has published guidance for higher education providers on embedding equality and diversity into HR policies. The Race Equality Charter also helps higher education providers to identify and address institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students. The Athena SWAN Charter recognises work undertaken to address gender equality.

The regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), and its predecessor, have provided over £4.7 million in funding for projects tackling sexual harassment, online harassment and hate-based harassment. This includes projects with a focus on developing and providing training for both staff and students on matters such as bystander intervention and handling of reports and disclosures.

In guidance to the OfS, the government has asked the regulator to positively engage with work to counter harassment and hate-crime and to make campuses places of tolerance for all students, and work with providers on equalities issues.

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