Obligations to former students

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Public sector

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Even after a person has left your institution you must not discriminate against them or harass them. This only applies if the discrimination or harassment arises out of and is closely connected to their previous relationship with you and would have been unlawful if they were still a student. For example, if an ex-student asks for a reference from the college it would be unlawful for the reference to be unflattering because of a protected characteristic of the ex-student, or because they at one time brought or supported a discrimination complaint against the college. 

This obligation to former students would include the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled former students if they continue to be at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to former students without a disability. This obligation only applies if the substantial disadvantage arises out of and is closely connected with them having been a student.

For example:

A college sends an annual newsletter to former students and one former student who has a visual impairment requests that it is sent to him by email rather than in hard copy. The college does not provide him with an electronic copy. This is likely to be an unlawful failure to make a reasonable adjustment.

If someone believes that they are being discriminated against after they have stopped studying with you, they can take the same steps to have things put right as if they were still a student. These steps are explained in the section on Dispute resolution and enforcement.

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.


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closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.