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Strategic Equality Impact Assessment: Practical Guidance for Scottish colleges and universities

This guidance was developed by Advance HE, in collaboration with a number of institutions and partners, as part of a joint project which took place during 2018 and 2019.

This guidance, funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), was developed by Advance HE in collaboration with Scottish college and university partners.

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Map of Equality Impact Assessment content

Strategic Equality Impact Assessment
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Equality Impact Assessment in Scotland
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Practical guidance for Scottish colleges and universities
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How to use the guidance
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Key information for leaders and other specific staff groups
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A model process for undertaking strategic EIA
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Summary of conclusions and key recommendations
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Practical tools and information
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How this guidance was developed

The project focused on considering strategic Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) and developing inclusive strategy, as a detailed and complex area of work to equality impact assess. A clear aim of the project was to provide a model for EIA of any area of strategy       

The project involved the combined participation of eight institutions, with at least two members of staff from each institution, including staff with lead responsibility for strategic planning, and staff with an equality remit.  The Project Team also included representation from the College Development Network (CDN) and Scottish Funding Council (SFC) as well as Advance HE staff.  A full list of project partners is available in the acknowledgements section.

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Why This Guidance is Needed

The requirement for EIA of policy, practice and decisions is not new; it is legally required within the Scottish specific public sector equality duties (PSED), under the Equality Act 2010.  

Many colleges and universities already have EIA of policy and practice embedded or are seeking to embed this within their day to day operational work and activities.   

The identified need for additional strategic EIA guidance is based on:

  • Ongoing institutional dialogue and feedback, particularly linked to challenges in aligning institutional equality activity and reporting.   
  • Advance HE work linked to analysis of the Scottish specific duties’ requirements and reporting.
  • Advance HE work linked to supporting the embedding of equality in Outcome Agreements
  • Evidence and findings from an Advance HE research review of strategic EIA across the public sector. 

Who this guidance is for

This guidance is for all staff in Scottish colleges and universities with either responsibility for or involvement in EIA but in particular will be useful for:

  • Governors
  • Board Members
  • Principals
  • Senior Leaders and Managers
  • All staff with responsibility (or shared responsibility) for strategy and policy development
  • Equality and HR leads and practitioners. 

Note: The Equality Act specific equality duties differ across the UK, particularly with regard to impact assessment requirements.  The principles of this guidance may, however, also be helpful to staff in colleges and universities based in other nations across the UK. 

How to use the guidance

The guidance is a practical resource to support institutions in equality impact assessing strategic areas of work and to consider the alignment and embedding of equality priorities across a range of institutional activities.

Find out how to use the guidance

A model process for undertaking strategic EIA

The suggested model for strategic EIA prompts institutions to consider:

  • How institutional equality priorities are identified.
  • How strategic EIA takes place and effectively embeds these priorities within key institutional commitments and other areas of strategy and related activity.   

The model will help institutions to address and enhance their approaches to meeting and representing equality and access requirements. The suggested model should also help to ensure wider institutional equality aims are met and legal public sector equality duty (PSED) obligations more effectively considered, aligned and mainstreamed.

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EIA 4 step process

Summary of conclusions and key recommendations for strategic Equality Impact Assessment

We have collated a summary of key recommendations and conclusions for a strategic approach to EIA. These are based on a consensus of the EIA project team, developed over the duration of the project in conjunction with relevant Advance HE research.

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Practical tools and information to support use of the EIA model including good practice, exemplars and resources

We have collated a number of practical tools and information to help you with Equality Impact Assessment. This includes:

  • A process map
  • Checklist of key principles
  • Reflective questions
  • FAQs
  • Case studies and examplars
View the tools and information


Advance HE would like to thank staff from the following colleges, universities and other institutions for their involvement in the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) project.  


We would welcome your feedback on the Equality Impact Assessment Guidance

We are interested in ensuring this guidance meets your needs and provides sufficient information that supports your institution to consider and undertake EIA in a strategic context. Our future aim is to further develop and update the guidance with additional tools and examples to make this as relevant and accessible as possible.

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