Governance and Policy

Governance and Policy

Our work on equality, diversity and inclusion is supported by a robust governance structure which is led by Vice-Principal Education, Professor Ruth Taylor. She chairs the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC). EDIC supports working groups and short-life forums which take forward specific work and report their progress through EDIC.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace, in education and in wider society on the grounds of the following nine protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The Act protects people from the following types of discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination - when someone is treated less favourably than another due to a protected characteristic they have. For example, an employer refusing to provide voice activated software for an employee who has developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Not implementing this to overcome the disadvantage could be an unlawful failure to make a reasonable adjustment which would constitute discrimination.
  • Indirect discrimination - occurs when: 1. a practice, provision or criterion is applied to all, and: 2. it puts a group with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage when compared with another group 3. an individual is put at a disadvantage 4. an employer cannot show it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. An example of indirect discrimination could be a uniform policy that requires all individuals to dress in the same way without modification. This may mean that some people cannot wear an item of clothing they regard as part of their faith. This would be indirect discrimination unless the employer could show that the uniform requirement was justified.
  • Associative discrimination - when an individual is treated less favourably because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic. For example, treating someone less favourably because they spend their spare time socialising with people of a certain religious group despite not sharing the same religious beliefs. A further example could be an employer disciplining an employee for taking time off work to care for their disabled mother and not disciplining other workers who have had similar amounts of time off work.
  • Perceptive discrimination - when treating an individual less favourably because it is perceived that they have a protected characteristic, whether they do so or not. For example, not recruiting someone because it is assumed they have a certain religious belief when they do not.
  • Harassment - unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.
  • Victimisation - when a person is treated less favourably because they have made or supported a complaint or have raised a grievance under the Equality Act 2010. Victimisation also applies if it’s believed that an individual has made a complaint, when they have not.
Public Sector Equality Duty

Public authorities have a duty, through the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), to consider how their policies or decisions affect people who are protected under the Equality Act 2010. In carrying out their functions, public authorities must have due regard to the need to achieve the objectives set out under the Equality Act 2010 which are to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
  • Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

The University’s PSED reports can be found on the Public Sector Equality Duty webpage.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in Research

Research Excellence Framework

The University of Aberdeen submitted to the Scottish Funding Councils' Research Excellence Framework  (REF) in March 2021.  The REF aims to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education. 

The selection of staff for the submission was governed by the institutional Research Code of Practice, which sets out the processes and structures for selection and takes account of equality, diversity and inclusion issues.

Access the REF Code of Practice and more information about the preparation of the institutional submission to REF2021.

If you have any questions about the REF or the selection process, please contact Marlis Barraclough.

Gender Equality in Research

"Gender Equality is integral to our University’s foundational purpose of being ‘open to all’.

I am delighted that our ongoing commitment and action to achieve gender equality have been recognised through an Institutional Athena Swan Bronze award and that eleven of our twelve Schools have achieved Bronze awards and one has been awarded a Silver level award.  This demonstrates consistent progress and provides solid foundations for bold future action.

I recognise that many challenges remain, not least the potential negative impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has posed for gender equality.

Our Institutional Gender Equality Action Plan, which has the Athena Swan Principles at its heart, has been designed to effectively target these challenges, including those pertinent to our researchers and their critical work, and we will lead it with passion and commitment and through engagement with our colleagues and students."

Professor George Boyne
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
University of Aberdeen

Read more about our commitment to gender equality in research.

Equality Impact Assessment

An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool for ensuring an organisation’s policies and procedures do not discriminate against or disadvantage individuals who identify with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Along with other Scottish public sector bodies, the University of Aberdeen has a legal duty to undertake and publish Equality Impact Assessments when developing and reviewing policies and procedures.

The University's Equality Impact Assessment Guidance document provides information on how to complete the Equality Impact Assessment Form

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team can be contacted for:

  • Support and advice, including data collection
  • Reviewing Equality Impact Assessments
  • Approving Equality Impact Assessments
  • Publishing completed Equality Impact Assessments

Completed Equality Impact Assessments 
Useful Links
Internal Links

Aberdeen University Student Association operates an Equality Committee. To find out more about this Committee please contact:

Vice President Welfare & Equal Opportunities
Aberdeen University Student's Association
f: 01224 27 2977



To find how disabled students can be supported during their time at the University please click here

The University is fully committed to supporting disabled job applicants, disabled employees and employees who become disabled in the course of their employment. Our legal responsibilities are important to us, however, the moral and business case for creating an inclusive work and study environment form the basis of the strategic and operational priorities. 

Disabled applicants and employees are supported in a number of ways:

  • Guaranteed Interview Scheme

Disabled applicants can opt into the Guaranteed Interview Scheme if they wish. The Scheme is voluntary and offers an interview to applicants who meet the "Essential Criteria" in the Person Specification.

For further information on the Guaranteed Interview Scheme email Lisa Sutherland-George, Senior HR Partner (Resourcing) or telephone on 01224 273751.

  • Adjustments

The University will make reasonable adjustments to allow a disabled employee to undertake their duties. This could, for example, be a change to the employee's workstation, working hours, working methods or duties.

  • Source of Support

Disabled employees can seek advice and support from:

  • HR Adviser
  • Equality and Diversity Adviser
  • University Safety Adviser
  • Trade Union
  • Occupational Health Service
  • University Counselling Service
External Links

You may also find these external links to equality organisations of interest: