Marriage or civil partnership
Pregnancy or maternity leave
Race, including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
Religion, belief or lack of
The Equality Act 2010 outlines the requirements for public bodies, including higher education providers, to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Types of discrimination
Direct discrimination is always unlawful including:
Racial segregation - the deliberate separation of people by race, colour, ethnic or national origin.
Sex - in relation to less favourable treatment because woman is breast-feeding or relating to pregnancy or childbirth.
However, there are exceptions:
Age - if it can be demonstrated that there is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, then decisions based on age would not be discrimination.
Disability - it is not discrimination to treat someone with a disability more favourably that someone without a disability.
Marriage and civil partnership - it is only discrimination in relation to work or employment.
Sex - In relation to a man, no account is to be taken of special treatment afforded to a woman in connection with pregnancy or childbirth.
A student does not need to find an actual person to compare their treatment with, but can rely on a hypothetical person if they can show there is evidence that such a person would be treated differently.
- Racial segregation will always be unlawful direct discrimination.
- To claim pregnancy or maternity discrimination, a female student must show that she has been treated unfavourably because of her pregnancy or maternity and does not have to compare her treatment to the treatment of someone who was not pregnant or a new mother.
It is discrimination to treat a woman (including a female student of any age) less favourably because she is or has been pregnant, has given birth in the last 26 weeks or is breastfeeding a baby who is 26 weeks or younger.
It is direct sex discrimination to treat a woman (including a female student of any age) less favourably because she is breastfeeding a child who is more than 26 weeks old.
It doesn’t matter that you did not intend to disadvantage the students with a particular protected characteristic in this way; what does matter is whether your action does or would disadvantage such students compared with students who do not share that characteristic.
- You apply (or would apply) the provision, criterion or practice equally to all relevant students, including a particular student with a protected characteristic, and
- The provision, criterion or practice puts (or would put) students sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage compared to relevant students who do not share that characteristic, and
- The provision, criteria, practice or rule puts (or would put) the particular student at that disadvantage, and
- You cannot show that the provision, criteria or practice is justified as a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’.
What is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’?
- Maintaining academic and other standards
- Ensuring the health and safety and welfare of students
Proportionate means ‘appropriate and necessary’, but ‘necessary’ does not mean that the provision, criterion or practice is the only possible way of achieving the legitimate aim.
Read the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)'s information about discrimination.
Academy Student Charter and CUKSN Respect Policy