Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 protects us all from discrimination on the grounds of a range of characteristics.  Find out more about the Act and how it affects you below: 

The Protected Characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 protects all of us - students, staff and service users - from discrimination on the grounds of nine protected characteristics:

  • Age (all ages and age groups)

  • Disability (physical and mental impairments)

  • Gender reassignment (people who have, are, or intend to undergo a gender reassignment process)

  • Marriage and civil partnership

  • Pregnancy and maternity

  • Race (including ethnic or national origin, colour and nationality)

  • Religion or belief (religious belief systems, non-religious belief systems and non-belief)

  • Sex (women and men)

  • Sexual orientation (people of all sexual orientations)


Unlawful discriminations

Unlawful discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic. The Equality Act defines discrimination as: 

Direct Discrimination: this occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic, compared to how someone without that characteristic would be treated. This includes discrimination based on association (i.e. because of a protected characteristic of someone they are associated with, such as a partner or child), and discrimination based on perception (where someone is perceived to have a particular protected characteristic, even if this is not the case). Direct discrimination on the grounds of age can sometimes be objectively justified if it can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Indirect discrimination: this occurs when a provision, criterion or practice appears neutral but has the effect of placing people with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage, when compared to others without that characteristic. Indirect discrimination is potentially lawful if the provision, criterion or practice can be shown to be objectively justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Harassment: this is defined as unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for a person, or of violating their dignity. 

Victimisation: this occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they have asserted their legal rights under the Equality Act or have supported someone else who has done so.

In addition, failing to make reasonable adjustments and discrimination arising from a disability are specific forms of disability-related discrimination. 

The Equality Duty

The University has additional duties under the Equality Act to promote equality. This is known as the Equality Duty. The purpose of the Equality Duty is to integrate the consideration of equality into the day-to-day business of universities and other public bodies. 

The Equality Duty has three aims. It requires that the University, in the exercise of its functions, has ‘due regard’ of the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act

  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not

  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not

‘Functions’ means what the University does, in particular its role as an education and service provider and employer. 'Due regard’ means  the University is expected to consider the Equality Duty in a proportionate and relevant way.

The Equality Duty applies in relation to the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

Meeting the Equality Duty

The Equality Act requires the University identify and publish equality objectives stating how it will meet the three aims of the Equality Duty. The University has developed an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Scheme 2021-2024 setting out our equality objectives.

We must also publish information on an annual basis that demonstrates how we are meeting those objectives and complying with the Equality Duty. Information on this - including student and staff data in relation to the protected characteristics.



All members of the University have a responsibility to uphold the University’s commitment to equality and diversity by: 

  • Treating students, staff and visitors to the University with dignity and respect 

  • Not engaging in, colluding in or encouraging behaviour that constitutes unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 

  • Supporting activities to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations as required under the Equality Act

You can find out more about how the University is advancing equality by reading the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Scheme 2021-2024 







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