How do I avoid discriminating in relation to admission decisions?

Advice and Guidance

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  • Public sector

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It is unlawful for you to reject applicants on the grounds of a protected characteristic unless, in relation to direct age discrimination, you can show your actions were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. If a person is refused a place on a course because they cannot comply with a condition of admission this could amount to indirect discrimination and in the case of a disabled applicant, discrimination arising from disability, unless this is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. You must also consider your duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled applicants before rejecting a disabled applicant.

If your admissions criteria are non-discriminatory (see also How do I avoid discriminating in relation to admission terms?) and you follow them, and you ensure that the people making admissions decisions are aware of the rules and the principles of fair admission and abide by them, then you are unlikely to refuse admission to a person for a discriminatory reason. Unless the decision-makers are well trained in these principles there is a danger that they may make prejudiced or unfair judgments which could result in acts of unlawful discrimination.

For example:

The admission tutor for a car maintenance course interviews a transsexual woman and decides that she would not be suitable for the course as she would not fit in with the other students on the course. This would be unlawful direct gender reassignment discrimination.

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.

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Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.