Mainstreaming the Equality Duty

April 2017

Foreword by the Dean of Equality and Diversity

“Stirling is a place where everyone is treated with respect and where ability – not background – is valued.”

Strategic Plan 2016-2021

The promotion of equality of opportunity has been a fundamental value of the University of Stirling since its establishment in 1967. Our charter states that “the University shall be committed to the fair and equal treatment of every person and shall not discriminate on unjustified, irrelevant or unlawful grounds.”

The University’s new Strategic Plan (2016-2021) maintains our commitment to equality and diversity. One of the key objectives of the Strategic Plan is to “create an inclusive environment, actively promoting equality and enriching our students’ lives by encouraging them to experience and understand the different cultures, beliefs and traditions of our student body”.

We are very proud of the progress we have made to eliminate discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations:

  • In our most recent staff survey (2015), 98% of respondents believed that the university respected equally people of different nationality/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital and civil partnership status
  • In 2016, 87% ofour final year students (NSS respondents) and 93% international students (International Student Barometer respondents) believed that the University was committed to equality and diversity
  • Our governance committees (Academic Council and University Court) are increasingly age and gender-balanced with 53% of Academic Council members under 50 and 48% of members of Court were female in August 2016
  • The success rate in promotion applications for female academics has increased from 26% in 2012 to 69% in 2016; in comparison to 58% for male academics (2016)

These successes are underpinned by a plethora of actions and activities outlined in detail below. We believe the following are key:

  • the University of Stirling is one of the strongest supporters of Aurora, a leadership development programme for women in HE, in the UK consistently sending one the highest annual cohorts. Since 2012, over 100 University of Stirling staff have participated in Aurora.
  • the active partnership with our Students’ Union through participation in the Equality Action Forum and Equality Steering Group. The joint development of the Preventing and Tackling Sexual Violence and Misconduct Strategy in 2016/17 is evidence of the impact of this partnership

We see the promotion of equality and diversity as integral to all that we do. Our approach is to mainstream the promotion of equality into our functions, and to ensure that the University culture and environment is based on fairness, equality, cultural diversity, inclusion and respect.

Dr Tessa Parkes

Dean for Equality and Diversity


The Equality Act 2010[1] (Specific Duties (Scotland) Regulations 2012 requires all public sector authorities to produce a report on progress made to integrate the general equality duty to the exercise of its functions.

In 2013 the University established nine Equality Outcomes which have been the drivers and measures for embedding equality and meeting the general equality duty, i.e.:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

In April 2015 we published a Mainstreaming Report measuring progress against these objectives. This report reflects on the actions taken and progress made since April 2015 to further embed equality and diversity into our functions and practices.

Section 1 of this report provides an overview of activities and examples of good practice across the University.

Section 2 examines progress made against the nine equality outcomes we set ourselves. Evidence of progress has been gathered through consultation with staff across all academic and service areas and with the Students’ Union in addition to data analysis.

Section 3 outlines the new Equality Outcomes established for 2017-21.

Full details of all the University equality and diversity related work can be accessed from the OneStirling webpages

SECTION 1: Overview of Activities

Since our Equality Outcomes were developed in April 2013 and following on from our Mainstreaming Equality Report of April 2015, a number of successful initiatives have been established to embed equality and diversity into our functions and practices:

  • Supporting structures and reporting mechanisms
  • Athena SWAN
  • Training and events
  • Partnership working.

Supporting structures and reporting mechanisms

The following noteworthy developments have been made to enhance the University’s supporting structures and reporting mechanisms to more effectively embed equality and diversity and meet the general equality duty:

(i)Establishment of a University-wide Equality Action Forum has proved successful in providing a forum for sharing good practice across the University and for raising awareness/understanding of equality and diversity issues. Equality Champions from across the University meet quarterly to provide input to key decisions (e.g. development of the University Equality Outcomes 2017-2021).

(ii)Student Support Services have been radically revised to better provide advice and support to students with physical, mental or learning disabilities, personal problems or advice on academic, social or university life, in general. The service is now structured as follows:

  • Student Guidance and Wellbeing
  • Accessibility and Inclusion
  • Student Services Hub

In September 2016 a Student Services Hub was also established to provide students with a one-stop-shop for a wide range of student enquiries.

(iii)From 2015, the University revised its approach to equality reporting to encourage greater alignment of activities and more efficient reporting of progress. The University’s inclusion of ‘how we are fulfilling our equality duties’ into the University’s Outcome Agreement has been highlighted as an example of good practice in the ECU’s Toolkit “How to embed equality in outcome agreements”.

(iv)Our work to fill employee data gaps has been highlighted as an example of good practice in the EHRC’s review of Scottish public authorities’ performance of the Scottish Equality Duties.

Athena SWAN

The University received an institutional Athena SWAN bronze level award in April 2013 in recognition of our support for female academics in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical (STEMM) disciplines. In November 2015, the Division of Biological & Environmental Sciences and the Faculty of Health Sciences (now the Faculty of Health Sciences & Sport) were each awarded Bronze departmental awards. In November 2016, the University of Stirling submitted an institutional bronze renewal application – a precursor to submission of an institutional silver application in line with our new institutional strategic plan in 2019-20.

The University expects to submit four departmental applications in 2017, following the expansion of Athena SWAN beyond STEM. By 2018, we are hopeful that all Faculties will have Athena Swan awards.

The University's faculties and divisions have taken their Athena SWAN commitments seriously with each establishing an Athena SWAN panel and action plan with a range of initiatives at institutional, divisional and faculty levels.

Training and events

A core aspect of meeting the general equality duty is through raising awareness and understanding by the delivery of training and events. Since the publication of our Equality Mainstreaming Progress Report in April 2015, we have developed our equality and diversity related training to include sessions on:

  • Personal Brand and Impact
  • Academic Promotions
  • Taking Control of your Career
  • W360 – Developing Women Leaders in University Administration
  • Unconscious bias in Higher Education
  • Equality & Diversity in the Workplace
  • Equality Impact Assessment
  • Workshop to raise awareness of Prevent (Wrap)
  • Preventing sexual violence: initial awareness raising training.

In Partnership with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the University delivered the conference ‘Impacting on Access 2016’ on widening access and equality. The conference included a range of speakers and workshops considering widening access and gender, showcasing the SFC Impact for Access projects (including the University of Stirling project on improving gender balance in the student population) alongside a series of student-led sessions to challenge and inspire.

The Students’ Union are key partners in supporting equality and diversity and are critical to the University’s aim to engender culture change. Recent events have included:

  • Mental Health Day
  • Mental Health First Aid training
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance

It is notable that the University of Stirling is one of the strongest supporters of Aurora in the UK, we consistently send one of the highest number of delegates each year. Since 2012, 100 University of Stirling staff have participated in Aurora and a further 40 have participated in the internal Stepping Stones programme, a programme which aims to equip women with the skills necessary to enhance their personal and career potential.

In addition to the training outlined above, the University has led or hosted the following events to combat prejudice and to increase awareness and respect:

  • White Ribbon Campaign – 25 November 2015

In November 2015, male staff across the University supported the annual White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end men’s violence against women, by wearing a white ribbon for two weeks from 25 November 2015, the International Day for Eradication of Violence Against Women.

  • International Festival –1 March 2016

Activities included a street festival, language café, music, food tasting and a live cooking station in addition to family themed activities for visiting international students and their children.

  • Pride Youth Games- 5 – 7 September 2016

The Games are a UK wide event for LGBTI young people aged 16-25 and in order to address any potential issues arising from this event, training was provided to Sports Centre staff in advance of this event.

  • Transgender Day of Remembrance (Vigil by the loch) – 10 November 2016

In support of the shooting in Orlando, the Students’ Union supported a vigil by the loch to show solidarity with the wider LGBT community.

  • The Faculty of Natural Sciences organized several science cabaret events and science fairs aimed at encouraging young women into science disciplines.
  • International Women’s Day: An annual event, the 2016 programmecarried the theme ‘Make More Noise’. Events included an ‘Imposter Panel’ exploring imposter syndrome, a women in politics event and showings of “Dirty Pakistani Lingerie” and the film “Suffragettes in Silent film”.
  • Launch of new University and Students’ Union Strategy on Preventing and Tackling Sexual Violence and Misconduct, and the associated awareness-raising campaign, #IsThisOk? (March 2017)

Partnership working

The University approach to meeting the equality duties is predicated on a commitment to partnership working. This recognizes our ability to achieve far more by working in partnership – on campus and with stakeholders around the world – to combat discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. The following examples exemplify the success delivered in partnership since 2015:

  • In 2015/16, the University’s International Recruitment Service successfully secured additional funds from the Erasmus+ Special Needs Fund to provide the required support for a student with diabetes to undertake an international exchange placement in Malta.Our student, and the role the University played in providing support, formed a case study published by the British Council, to promote opportunities for students with disabilities to undertake Erasmus+ opportunities.
  • The Career Development Centre has been awarded the LGBT Youth Scotland Bronze Charter Mark in recognition of its high standard of support for young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The Charter Mark demonstrates the team is aware of the issues LGBT individuals can face and is committed to providing a service that is inclusive, where LGBT people feel involved, valued and supported.
  • In 2015/16, the University funded a student to conduct site visits internationally to ensure wheelchair accessibility at potential hosts for a placement year abroad; ensuring that a student’s disability did not prevent them from participating fully in their placement abroad. In addition to this, the University secured additional funds from the British Council to cover additional costs the student would face whilst on their placement abroad.
  • In 2016/17, the University worked in close partnership with the Students’ Union to develop aPrevention of Sexual Violence & Misconduct Strategy, culminating in the launch of the strategy and ‘#IsThisOk?’ campaign in March 2017


This section provides a report on final progress in deliveringthe institution’s set of equality outcomes for 2013 – 2017:

Appendix 1 provides a summary of the original equality outcomes we set ourselves and to which of the equality duties each of these relates.


We will maintain a welcoming and inclusive culture and environment where staff and students feel valued, respected and supported, and where discrimination, harassment and bullying is addressed.


Sincedeveloping our Equality Outcomes in 2013, we continue to develop our existing initiatives and have undertaken a number of new initiativesin order to embed consideration of equality and diversity in our culture and practices:

  • The Equality Action Forum, established in 2014, involving around 30 Equality Champions across the University, has proved to be an extremely effective way of sharing good practice. In addition to our regular meetings, two extraordinary meetings were held in 2016/17 in order to consult with Equality Champions on the development of the University’s revised set of Equality Outcomes and the University’s submission for Athena SWAN renewal.
  • Transgender guidelines for staff and students and a Student Parental Policy are currently under development.
  • In November 2016, a Prevention of Sexual Violence & Misconduct Strategy was developed in collaboration with external partners including Rape Crisis Forth Valley and Police Scotland and was approved by our Academic Council and University Court. A microsite is now available that summarises our approach to this issue and provides information and support available for those affected by these behaviours or those supporting a friend or colleague ( A set of materials have been developed for the launch of a pledge campaign in March 2017. Protocols for reporting are also being developed and a training programme for staff and students, including our Senior Management Team, is now being rolled out.
  • We continue to build positive relationships with the Students’ Union and roll out a campus-wide Equality and Diversity training programme and awareness raising events as noted in our Overview of Activities, above. The Students’ Union President is a member of the University’s Equality Steering Group and the VP Communities is a committed member of the University’s Equality Action Forum.
  • The University Mentoring Scheme, introduced in 2013, has become a central development activity within the University’s approach to staff development and has been identified as supporting an enhanced culture across the University. A comprehensive review of the programme undertaken during Summer/Autumn 2015 found that mentees were satisfiedwith the programme, particularly in terms of satisfaction with their self-development in relation to self-reflection, increased confidence and ability to ask for support and articulate their needs. Overall, the mentoring programme was identified as providing a very positive experience of mentoring across the University. Faculties across the University are also introducing mentoring for staff; the Faculty of Arts & Humanities is an exemplar in this area and is currently working with other Faculties to encourage take up of locally-run schemes to complement the University scheme.
  • Wecontinue to upgrade and promote university facilities as appropriate to enhance accessibility and respond to the diverse needs of our staff, students and service users.

These actions, evidenced by the measures below, confirm the University made progress against this outcome.


Within our Equality Mainstreaming Progress Report 2015, we identified a number of next steps in relation to (i) Perceptions of fair and equitable culture; (ii) Experiences of discrimination and harassment and (iii) External assessment of equitable culture and we are pleased to report that positive progress has been made.

(i)Perceptions of fair and equitable culture

  • Students:

In the 2016 National Student Survey (NSS) we achieved an overall satisfaction score of 89% which is three percent higher than our score last year - placing us above both the Scottish and UK sector average of 86%.

The following question has been included in the National Student Survey (NSS) since 2015 and the International Student Barometer (ISB) since 2016:

‘I believe that the University is committed to equality and diversity’

National Student Survey
2015 / 2016
All respondents / 88% / 87%
Female / 91% / 88%
Male / 80% / 85%
Age Group
Mature Students / 89% / 92%
Young Students / 87% / 86%
Asian / 77% / 85%
Other / - / 89%
White / 88% / 88%
International Student Barometer
All Respondents / 93%
Female / 93%
Male / 93%
No known disability / 94%
Disabled / 86%

Table 1: National Student Survey and International Student Barometer

This demonstrates high levels of confidence from students regarding the commitment of the university to equality and diversity. From 2017,all student surveys will be analysed by protected characteristics encompassing National Student Survey, International Student Barometer, Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, Postgraduate Research Experience Survey and Stirling Experience Survey.

  • Staff

In the 2015 Staff Survey respondents confirmed that felt that the University acted fairly, regardless of ethnic background, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender identity, marital/civil partnership status, and pregnancy/maternity status with regard to recruitment (94%), access to training (91%), investigating complaints (90%) and career progression/promotion (83%). Most respondents (93%‐98%) believe the University respects equally people of each protected characteristic. 85% agreed that the University is committed to equality of opportunity for all of its staff.

These are exceptionally high levels of confidence in the university’s commitment to equality and diversity.