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Equality research and policy

29 July 2010

Gender inequality

Academic gender pay gap will take 40 years to close

It will take 40 years to close the academic gender pay gap, warned a 2017 report from UCU. The report reveals that, in 2015/16, UK universities had a 12% overall gender pay gap for academic staff, compared to 12.3% in 2014/15 and 12.6% in 2013/14:

The gender pay gap in higher education: 2015/16 - full report, May 17 [1mb]

Reports produced by TUC around the issue of gender inequality

A report by TUC and Women's Aid exposes the concealed despair of women trapped in financially abusive relationships. In many cases women are left trapped in poverty without access to money for essentials, emergencies or for their children. Click here to download the TUC/Women's Aid report (pdf).

A second report was prepared for the TUC Women's Conference 2015. It looks at how women have fared through recession and austerity. The report finds that while some progress on some headline measures of gender equality has continued, the employment and pay gap have continued to narrow. Some women are facing new hardships and barriers to equality: click here to download the TUC Women's Conference report (pdf).

Violence against Women: FGM

The Equality Q&A Sessions will focus on an issue of UCU equality campaigning and/or interest arising from existing or new policy.  We will cover all equality strands for example looking at topics such as action against violence against women, disability hate crime, racism / xenophobia or challenging homophobia and transphobia for example.

To coincide with International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) observed on 6 February, we focus on the theme of Violence against Women and in particular Female Genital Mutilation.  

Key facts:

  • an estimated 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East
  • if current trends continue, some 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15
  • FGM cause severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Violence against women - FGM [84kb]   

Violence against women - FGM [70kb]

Homophobia and transphobia

Challenging LGBT+ exclusion in UK higher education

This report presents key findings from a pilot survey carried out by a project team from UCU, the University of Sussex, University of Kent, University of Essex, and Glasgow Caledonian University which explores the working conditions for LGBT+ staff in higher education (HE) in the UK.

Challenging LGBT+ exclusion in UK higher education [280kb]

Pride and Prejudice in Education 

An exploration of experiences and perceptions of sexual orientation and gender identity among post school education learners and staff.

Pride and Prejudice in Education, Feb 16 [1mb]

Employing trans people in HE

Employing transsexual people in higher education, ECU guidance (.pdf)

Race inequality

'Unacceptable' 26% ethnic minority pay gap at Russell Group universities must be tackled

Universities must make tackling the 'unacceptable' race pay gap a priority, UCU said in response to a December 2018 report by the BBC which revealed that black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at Russell Group universities face an average pay gap of 26% compared to their white colleagues.

UCU said its own research had shown that nine in ten (90%) of BAME staff in colleges and universities reported facing barriers to promotion.

Read the full story here

Greater commitments needed from universities to advance race equality

A report published in September 2018 says that senior staff must ensure race equality policies are implemented, if universities are to address the attainment gap between students from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds and their white counterparts

The report [435kb], looking at the Race Equality Charter (REC)*, also calls for annual audits of universities' efforts to address the BME attainment gap and to provide universities that do achieve the REC with a boost when it comes to research funding.

See also: Greater commitments needed from universities to advance race equality, says report

The experiences of black and minority ethnic staff in further and higher education

A UCU survey found that 90% of black staff members report having faced barriers to promotion in colleges and universities, and over two-thirds (71%) said they had 'often' or 'sometimes' been subject to bullying and harassment from managers.

The experiences of black and minority ethnic staff in further and higher education, Feb 16 [132kb]

See also: UCU report finds high levels of discrimination

UCU briefing on deaths in custody

In line with UCU Congress 2014 resolution 69 - Black Deaths in Custody, UCU has produced a briefing on this issue:

Deaths in custody - briefing [285kb]  
Deaths in custody - briefing [69kb]

The Institute of Race Relations published a report 'Dying for Justice' which gives the background on 509 people (an average of 22 per year) from BAME, refugee and migrant communities who have died between 1991-2014 in suspicious circumstances in which the police, prison authorities or immigration detention officers have been implicated. Co-editor, Harmit Athwal said 'if the Macpherson report was intended as a way of restoring community faith in the British police, the issue of deaths in custody is the one which is constantly undermining it. As more deaths take place and no one is ever prosecuted, it inevitably sows seeds of incredulity, anger and despair'.

Download Dying for Justice: Dying for Justice [2mb]


UCU migrant members' survey results, November 2022

UCU's migrant members' standing committee (MMSC) conducted a survey to help understand how UCU support for migrant members could be enhanced. Please click here to read the full report. [386kb]

Latest information from TUC on migration

Working in the UK

The TUC have produced guidance on working in the UK and rights at work. The rights depend on the type of worker you are. The TUC resource will guide you to establish the category of worker to find out what rights apply. For further information visit:

Migration Messaging Project

The TUC developed the Migration Messaging Project with Hope not Hate and Migrant Voice as a way to promote - and test the effectiveness - of progressive messages which shift the blame for workplace and social problems away from migrants and onto bad employers and lack of investment in services and welfare. This booklet provides case studies of the activities that took place in Corby, Manchester and Southampton over the course of the Migration Messaging Project to promote these messages: Connecting communities, building alliances: Migration Messaging Project (.pdf)

The impact of UK immigration policies on students and staff in further and higher education

UCU Equality Unit has produced this report to highlight the positive impact of immigration on the post-16 education sector and to demonstrate how the Government's points-based immigration system is damaging the international reputation of our education system.

  The impact of UK immigration policies on students and staff in further and higher education [844kb]

Disability inequality

From compliance to culture change

This is the Final Report of the Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning. The Commission was established in March 2007 to investigate and report on current practices in the employment of disabled people in the lifelong learning sector and to make recommendations for improvement. The report's 160 pages set out the major challenges to achieving real inclusion for disabled staff.

From Compliance to Culture Change, NIACE report [558kb]

'Fulfilling Potential' - consultation response

'Fulfilling Potential' is a consultation document from the Office for Disability Issues on improving the possibilities for disabled people in the UK. The Disabled Members' Standing Committee recently agreed a UCU response, stating that the cuts in financial and social support for disabled people make the aspirations of this report unachievable and insulting. You can read the document here (pdf).

Download the UCU response here:

Fulfilling Potential - UCU consultation response, Mar 14 [78kb]

Hidden in plain sight - the inquiry final report

'Hidden in plain sight' is the final report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Inquiry into disability-related harassment. The report uncovers that harassment is a commonplace experience for disabled people, but a culture of disbelief and systemic institutional failures are preventing it from being tackled effectively. As well as reporting on the extent of harassment the report also includes case studies and makes recommendations to public authorities to help them deal with the problems uncovered.

Report about disability and harassment

Further information about the work of Equality and Human Rights Commission can be found at:

Disabled workers and students in education

A TUC report published in March 2015, Disabled Workers and Students in Education, says that reforms have reversed progress being made towards an educational system that welcomes and respects disabled staff.

The report looks first at the experience of disabled teaching staff in the UK and then at the effects of various changes to the SEND system. Responses from trade union surveys illustrate the points raised by the report. Read more on the TUC website here or click here to download the report (.docx).

Below is link to TUC Report on Disabled Education Workers and Students Suffering under austerity measures - March 2015.

Read more on the 'Disabled Workers and Students in Education' report here.

Debate on assisted dying

This TUC briefing paper on assisted suicide presents a legal opinion of the situation in the UK, and explores opposing views in the debate. It aims to provide basic information to our members on some of the issues and legalities surrounding the matter, and to inform and enlighten the debate. Neither the UCU, TUC or TUC Disability Committee have adopted any position on what is recognised as an emotive and controversial issue, noting the strongly held opinions and wider context that applies, particularly to disabled people: TUC briefing: The debate on assisted suicide (DMSC123), Apr 11 [139kb]

Disabled people are particularly vulnerable to the cuts introduced by the government since 2010, and will continue to suffer as further cutbacks are introduced. This TUC briefing paper to aid and inform their campaigning in the fight back against these attacks.

TUC briefing: Disabled people fighting the cuts, May 11 [105kb]

Age equality

Default retirement Age

The default retirement age (DRA) was phased out in 2011. Read more on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website. This will ends a legal form of discrimination on the grounds of age.

UCU welcomed this move and reaffirmed its support of the TUC position that everyone should have the right to retire with dignity and a decent pension.

These plans should mean that workers aged 65 and over will have the same job security as younger workers for the first time. Getting rid of the DRA helps change views about the retirement process, encouraging employers and workers to be more positive about the contribution people can make in their late 50s and 60s. We need to move beyond the current 'countdown culture', in which the value of an employee is thought to lessen simply because they are approaching retirement age.

Removing the default retirement age has no impact on the age at which people become entitled to occupational or state pensions.

Government review of default retirement age, UCU policy briefing, Jan 10 [48kb]
Government review of default retirement age, UCU policy briefing, Jan 10 [145kb]

A Review and Analysis of age equality practice in the learning and skills sector

Age Equality Report [874kb]

AoC guidance for colleges on Equality Impact Assessments  

The Association of Colleges have published guidance on carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment in colleges. You can download the guidance below.

AOC, equality impact asessment guidance for colleges, Jun 13 [280kb]

Last updated: 8 May 2024