Avoiding discrimination: The physical environment

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Public sector

Which countries is it relevant to?

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Whether your institution is campus or town based, multi or single site, its physical environment plays an important role in the student experience. It is good practice to manage your environment in such a way that it enhances rather than detracts from students’ participation in college or university life. Particular areas to think about include:

  • leisure, recreation, entertainment and sports facilities, including changing facilities
  • toilet facilities
  • car parking
  • campus or college shops.

You may already have had an access audit to consider the needs of a wide range of disabled people and be following a rolling programme of estates works. The Centre for Accessible Environments has a range of guidance on access audits and inclusive design (www.cae.org.uk). You may also have made reasonable adjustments to physical features as part of your anticipatory reasonable adjustments duty. 

You may not however have thought about the range of needs of students with other protected characteristics and should do so to avoid indirectly discriminating against them. The Equality Challenge Unit together with the Association of College and University Business Officers (CUBO) and the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) have published guidance on Managing Inclusive Building Design (www.ecu.ac.uk). 

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.