Universities Scotland

Race Equality Toolkit

Learning and Teaching

What this Toolkit is about


This resource is designed to assist academic staff1, particularly those less familiar with race equality issues, to embed issues of race equality and of fostering good relations as part of learning and teaching and curriculum design.

This area of work can be challenging and this needs to be recognised. However, embedding race equality is not optional. It is part of a series of steps that public bodies such as higher education institutions (HEIs) need to take to enable them to comply with equality legislation.

Embedding race equality is also part of continuous improvement and forms part of the aims of key initiatives that impact on higher education institutions, for example within the revised Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) and Graduates for the 21st Century, improving student experience. Embedding race equality and fostering good relations in learning and teaching can also contribute to assuring quality as well as enhancing the student experience.

The Scottish Funding Council considers effective higher education institutions to be those that work proactively

to promote equality and respect for diversity, tolerance and good relations between different communities in Scotland

Scottish Funding Council 2009–2012 Corporate Plan, Outcome 7, p. 47

This section includes consideration of:

1.1The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

This resource was developed in response to the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. The Act placed a general duty on public authorities such as HEIs when carrying out their functions to have “due regard” to the need to

The duty is obligatory, not optional, and HEIs have to meet the duty even if they have very few students from minority ethnic backgrounds. This duty also applies to any race-related matters that might affect international students studying within the institution relating to their nationality, colour, ethnic or national origin and race.

This duty applies to all functions within the institution that might have relevance to race equality, including learning, teaching and assessment.

1.2The Equality Act

A single general Equality Duty will be introduced which will require the authorities to be active in promoting equality, eliminating unlawful conduct and fostering good relations across all the protected characteristics, including race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment. Specific duties are likely to include a requirement for HEIs to demonstrate how they have taken evidence of the impact of equality in the design of the institution’s key policies and service delivery for all the above named protected characteristics.

At the time this part of the site was written, the new Equality Act had just received Royal Assent. The Act may come into force in the autumn of 2010 but it is more likely that this will happen early in 2011. The purpose of the Act is to

Until the Act is in force, the current equality legislation, such as the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, remains relevant and in force.

There are many aspects of the Act which are related to issues of employment, data gathering and representation. The document entitled A Fairer Future: The Equality Bill and other action to make equality a reality provides further information. Further information about the Act and its implications for higher education can be found on the Equality Challenge Unit website.

The Act will bring the three separate equality duties of public bodies — race, disability and gender — into a single public sector Equality Duty. In addition, this Duty will extend to cover age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment. The Act is also considering a new public sector duty to address socio-economic inequalities.

The new Act emphasises the requirement for public bodies to consider the needs of diverse groups when designing and delivering public services, so that people can get fairer opportunities and better services. The suggestions in this Toolkit are intended to assist institutions in promoting good campus relations particularly in relation to race, religion and belief issues. Engaging with each section of this Toolkit can assist an institution to ensure it develops a systematic approach to embedding race equality and sets in place mechanisms that will foster good relations and eliminate unlawful conduct.

The Legislation section holds more in depth information on the subject.

  1. Throughout this site, the term “academic staff” should be taken to include any staff, including postgraduate students, who have teaching responsibilities.