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Well-being & Equalities

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We consider equality and diversity in all our priorities. We ask institutions to be mindful of the Equality Act (2010), including the statutory requirement for Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessments (EHRIAs) of new and revised strategies and policies, which includes individual published outcome agreements.

To comply with the Equality Act 2010, we report on progress to deliver our equality outcomes both externally, supporting the colleges and universities that we fund, and internally.

SFC and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are working together to enhance our leadership and oversight role in tackling persistent inequalities in the tertiary system.

Through this MoU, SFC and EHRC will establish National Equality Outcomes (NEOs) for the tertiary education sector and support Scotland’s colleges and universities to meet the requirements and achieve the aspirations of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

Tackling persistent inequalities together

The Report

This report, Tackling persistent inequalities together [PDF], outlined the persistent inequalities in the tertiary system and asked institutions to address them by contributing to a set of National Equality Outcomes (NEOs) as part of their Public Sector Equality Duty. It also confirms a new SFC Strategic Equality Outcome.

National Equality Outcomes

The National Equality Outcomes (NEOs), included in Tackling persistent inequalities together, include consideration of:

  • Success and retention rates of students.
  • Satisfaction levels of disabled students.
  • The imbalance on courses by sex.
  • The mental health of staff and students.
  • The safety of students and staff.
  • Proportionate representation of staff, Boards and Courts particularly in relation to race and disability.

National Equality Outcomes Sectoral Event 

The National Equality Outcomes Sectoral Event took place on May 7th 2024 as part of the commitment made by SFC and EHRC in the Tackling Persistent Inequalities Together report.  

This event brought together equality leads and student representatives from Scotland’s tertiary sector; the Scottish Government; and local agencies such as Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland, the College Development Network, QAA, and NUS Scotland. 

North East Scotland College - case study

North East Scotland College (NESCol) provided an overview of its gender affirming care fund project.  

In conjunction with the student LGBTQ+ executive officer, the team set up a fund through which transgender students (including those who identified as non-binary, gender queer or gender exploring) could apply for up to £40 to purchase gender affirming items, services or experiences.  

Kirsty spoke about the considerations in developing the fund and processes to ensure the fund was accessible to students, met their needs and how it could be linked to further support within the college. She discussed the implementation of the fund and student uptake.  

In terms of the impact of the fund students reported increased confidence, comfort, attendance and self-esteem. They also reported less gender dysphoria, isolation and pain.  

The project provided a practical mechanism by which students felt able to engage with college and access further support available to them.  

Edinburgh Napier University - case study

Edinburgh Napier University was invited to discuss its Student Voice Project which has been used as a case study in the RAISE (Researching, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement) Good Practice Guide 

This project saw student partners design and execute a research project and make recommendations to improve student engagement and feedback opportunities in the School of Applied Sciences.  

Student participants had the strongest opinions about the timing and ease of participating in feedback and understanding what happens to it. The statement ‘The University Values my Feedback and Cares What I Think’ had the strongest response. The conclusions from this work reflected the need for a variety of channels to provide feedback which should be quick, timely and anonymous, recognizing the pressures students face.  

There is a need to ensure that students play a part in the whole feedback cycle, from design to action, and that the action taken as a result of feedback is visible in order for them to understand the impact of their contributions and that their feedback (and they) matter.   

Glasgow Clyde College - case study

Glasgow Clyde College presented the work it has been undertaking in conjunction with Brothers in Arms to support mental health.  

This was developed in the context of student and staff feedback indicating there was increasing need for support with the higher presentation rate of complex mental health needs. The college seeks to have a nurture approach to ensure that college activities, relationships and the environment are welcoming, safe and respectful for all.  

The project initially involved training staff and students within the hair and barbering courses to have ‘reach in’ conversations with clients and to support them with signposting for those who may be struggling.  

Following a positive response, the project was rolled out to those undertaking coaching and sport qualifications and the feedback was that this training was also valuable in this context, particularly for those working with boys and young men in a sport context.  

It is hoped that the course will gain a SCQF credit rating in the coming weeks and, following evaluation, expand across the college and into other sectors.   

SFC Strategic Plan 2022-27

Building a connected, agile, sustainable tertiary education and research system for Scotland.

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