Equality impact assessments (EIA) are a tool to help colleges and universities ensure that their policies, practices and decisions are fair, meet the needs of their staff and students and that they are not inadvertently discriminating against any protected group.
EIA is not a legal requirement in England, but it is an established and credible tool for demonstrating due regard to the public sector equality duty (PSED), which is required by law.
In Scotland, the specific duties require institutions to assess and review new and revised policies and practices against the three needs of the PSED, use evidence, act on the results and publish the EIA accessibly.
In Wales, institutions must assess the likely impact of proposed and reviewed policies and practices on its ability to comply with the PSED, and publish reports of assessments where a substantial impact is detected.
EIA does not have to follow a specified process, and institutions may develop different approaches for different areas or types of policy or practice.
Most institutions have an EIA process and documentation. Where these are in place, it is important that this is updated to reflect the broader reach of the Equality Act.
Responsibility for EIA
One of the challenges of EIA is ensuring it is undertaken by policy owners across the institution and does not fall to one individual.
An institution-wide approach and commitment, supported by training and development, are key to this.
ECU has developed training materials for colleges in Scotland to use when training staff and student representatives to undertake EIA.