Avoiding discrimination: Types of education, benefits, facilities and services

Advice and Guidance

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Teaching and learning

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  • Public sector

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You should ensure that your induction procedures do not unlawfully discriminate against any students.

For example:

A university arranges induction events which take place during the school summer holidays, making it difficult for women with childcare responsibilities to attend. As women are more likely than men to have childcare responsibilities this would result in unlawful indirect sex discrimination unless the university could justify their actions, by for example showing that there was no other time they could hold the events.

A university library holds a series of induction sessions for each course group on how to use the library services. A disabled student is unable to attend the session for her course group because of the scheduling of her personal care arrangements. She informs the relevant library staff of this, and asks if she could attend an alternative session, she is told that she must attend the session for her course group. This is likely to be an unlawful failure to make a reasonable adjustment.

Teaching and learning

Flexibility in course provision

Course provision which meets the needs of students with the range of protected characteristics will help you to avoid discriminating against them.

Courses that are delivered flexibly are likely to reduce your chances of inadvertently discriminating by, for example, excluding women with childcare responsibilities.

Flexibility may also be necessary for some disabled students, if they are required to attend medical appointments or need to take more frequent breaks from learning. Such flexibility may be a reasonable adjustment for some disabled students.

Curriculum design

Although the actual content of courses is not subject to the discrimination provisions, you must ensure that your courses are taught in a way that will not subject students to discrimination.

For example:

A lecturer covering apartheid in South Africa repeatedly refers to ‘niggers’ when talking about black people. This creates an offensive environment for a number of students. This is likely to be unlawful harassment.

The way in which the curriculum is taught is crucial to challenging stereotypes and addressing inequality, for example through positive representations of under-represented groups.

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
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

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.


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closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.