Equality and Diversity

Social justice features in our core values and underpins our world view. We embrace equality, diversity, inclusion and respect.

On this page, you can find out how we promote equality and diversity at QMU, and the work of our Equality and Diversity Committee, which is responsible to the University Court (our governing body).

You will also find links to useful external websites and to assessments and reports we produce assessing our performance embedding equality and diversity.

How we are Embedding Equality and Diversity into our Governance Structures

Embedding equality and diversity in our governance structures and in our strategic planning process is critical to mainstreaming equality and diversity, as is defining responsibilities, setting performance measures and monitoring progress against those measures.

While responsibility for mainstreaming equality and diversity within the University rests with all staff and students, the University Court is, as a matter of law, responsible for ensuring compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and for ensuring that the University meets its public sector equality duty (PSED) and the specific duties relevant to Scotland.

The University Court exercises oversight through the Equality and Diversity Committee (EDC). The EDC is responsible to the University Court for the development of the strategic framework for equality in service provision and in employment across the University. The Committee’s remit goes beyond legislative compliance, however. It aims to support the delivery of key elements of the University’s Strategic Plan through policy development and the promotion of examples of good practice from both internal and external sources. It also seeks to develop and maintain effective networking and liaison in equality and diversity issues. This applies internally within the University and externally, with a particular focus on working relationships with professional equality experts and equality bodies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Equality Challenge Unit.


Our Equality and Diversity Committee - Purpose, Function and Remit

Committee Purpose

To set the strategic framework for equality in service provision and in employment across the University.


To promote equality of opportunity and respect for diversity in all aspects of the University’s business. Specifically to aim to eliminate discrimination, advance equal opportunities and foster good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding, thereby ensuring the University avoids the potential for discrimination on grounds of the protected equality strands.

To advise the Senior Management Team, Executive Board and the University Court on the implementation of all aspects of the University’s Equality and Diversity Strategy and Equal Opportunities Policy.


1. To work appropriately within the remit of the committee to support delivery of the objectives of the University’s Strategic Plan.

2. To monitor, review and determine the impact of changes in equality legislation for the University, amending practice and policy to ensure legislative compliance.

3. To develop, prioritise, implement and monitor the progress in delivery, of the University’s Mainstreaming Report and Equality Outcomes.

4. To prepare, update and/or instigate appropriate equality policies and guidance and monitor the implementation of such policies, including equality impact assessments.

5. To request and/or receive reports relating to equality issues from across the university.

6. To provide advice across the University on the interpretation of the Equality Policy and supporting policy statements.

7. To identify areas that may require equality work and establish working groups to investigate and report as appropriate.

8. To recognise, communicate and promote examples of good ‘equality of opportunity’ practice from both internal and external sources.

9. To maintain and develop effective networking and liaison in equality and diversity issues. This applies internally to include University Committees as well as externally, sector-wide with working relationships with professional equality professionals and equality bodies such as Equality and Human Rights Commission and Equality Challenge Unit.

10. To provide advice on, and receive updates in relation to, the University’s SFC Outcome Agreement with particular reference to learners from different protected characteristic groups.

11. To report regularly to the Executive Board and to Court on the achievement of Equality outcomes.

Quorum - One-third of the committee membership which must include the Convener

Meeting Frequency - Four times per academic year

Reporting - Direct to University Court and to Executive Board.

Minutes Distribution - Court, Equality and Diversity Committee Intranet Site, Secretaries of: Executive Board, Student Experience Committee and Research Strategy Committee.

Frequently Asked Questions about our Equality and Diversity Committee

Q.When was the Committee established?

The Committee was established in October 2003 and is chaired by the University Secretary.

Q.What do members of the Equality and Diversity Committee aim to do?

By meeting on a regular basis, members consider all matters relating to the development, implementation and evaluation of the Equal Opportunities and Equality and Diversity Policy and aim to identify the affective and most appropriate way to implement these within the University.

Q.Who does the Equality and Diversity Committee report to?

The Committee reports to the University Court.

Q.How can I have an input into the Committee?

Members of staff and students are encouraged to feed issues into the Committee through any of the Committee members or via the Secretary.

Q.Who can I contact for further information?

If you would like further information about the work of the Equality and Diversity Committee or if you would like to submit an agenda item for consideration, please contact the Secretary of the Committee.

Q.Is the University a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission's Equality Exchange?

Yes Queen Margaret University is a fully subscribed member of the Equality Exchange.

Q.How can I find out more about Equal Opportunities legislation, policy and initiatives?

We have a good source of external links which are accessible via the links tab below.


The primary legislation in this area is the Equality Act 2010 which consolidated other equality and diversity legislation.

The Equality Act 2010 specified that all public authorities (including Queen Margaret University) must give due regard to:-

  1. Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation;
  2. Advancing equality of opportunity by having due regard to removing or minimising disadvantage, meet the needs of a particular group that are different from the needs of others and by encouraging participation in public life; and
  3. Fostering good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.

The Act was designed to ensure a proactive approach to equality and diversity. The Act protects students and staff from discrimination and harassment based on ‘protected characteristics’.

The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Being married or in a civil partnership is NOT a protected characteristic for higher education institutions.

The Scottish Government introduced additional legislation to help support the Act. This legislation was called the Equality Act 2012 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012. The Regulations introduced the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires all public authorities to:-

  1. Publish equality outcomes by 30 April 2013 and report on progress every two years;
  2. Report on mainstreaming the equality duty by 30 April 2013 , and thereafter every two years;
  3. Assess and review policies and practices on an on-going basis;
  4. Gather and use employee information and publish this;
  5. Publish gender pay gap information by 30 April 2013 and report progress every two years;
  6. Publish statements on equal pay by 30 April 2013 and at four year intervals;
  7. Consider award criteria and conditions in relation to public procurement; and publish in a manner that is accessible.

Equality Impact Assessment at QMU

The University has a statutory duty to assess the equality impact of applying its policies and practices. The purpose of the assessment is to improve outcomes for those who may experience discrimination or disadvantage.

The University meets this duty by conducting Equality Impact Assessments (EQIAs) on all new and revised policies and practices.

Click here for the University's Guidance and Template for completing EQIAs.

Completed EQIAs

A list of all completed EQIAs is shown below. For a copy of the EQIA, please contact the Secretary to the Equality and Diversity Committee.

  • Risk Monitoring Academic Promotions Policy and Procedure
  • Acting Up Policy
  • Contribution Pay Policy and Procedure
  • Expenses and Benefit Manual
  • Finance Risk Management Policy
  • Flexible Working Policy
  • Long Service Awards
  • Maternity Policy
  • Paternity Policy
  • Performance Enhancement Review
  • Performance Management
  • Procurement Strategy
  • Professional Remuneration Review Policy
  • QMU Staff Learning and Development Policy
  • QMU Staff Sickness Absence Management Procedure
  • Redundancy and Redeployment Protocol
  • Redundancy Recruitment and Selection
  • Re-Grading Policy and Procedure
  • Reward and Recognition Policy
  • Secondment Policy
  • Smoking Policy
  • UCCCfS
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate Prospectus
  • Ethical Investment Policy
  • Space Management
  • Treasury Management Policy and Procedures
  • REF Process December 2012
  • REF Process March 2013
  • REF Selection of Staff July 2012
  • REF Selection of Staff September 2013
  • REF Selection of Staff 15 October 2013
  • Disability Policy Update February 2014
  • Special Leave Policy April 2014 A
  • Annual Leave Policy April 2014
  • Employability Strategy June 2014

Our Mainstreaming Report, Equality Outcomes and Employee Information

The University's published mainstreaming reports can be accessed from our Mainstreaming Report, Equality Outcomes and Employee Information webpage.

We also publish a Gender Action Plan (PDF).


Our participation in the Athena Swan Charter Scheme

he Athena SWAN Charter encourages commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, maths and medicine (STEMM) in UK higher education and science. More recently, the Charter expanded to recognise work in arts, humanities, social sciences and law, and in professional and support roles. It now also rewards excellent work which addresses gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Queen Margaret University is committed to the principles of the Charter and values diversity and career opportunity across its workforce.  To support these principles, and to promote the role of women in STEMM, the University undertook an internal self-assessment process and was successful in gaining a Bronze SWAN Award in 2014.

More recently, in June 2017, the University’s Division of Nursing received a Bronze award, but specifically recognises the Division’s excellent work in valuing diversity and developing a person-centred culture in Nursing.  Find out more about QMU's Nursing Division and their Bronze award.


Useful External Websites

The Equality and Human Rights Commission was created by Parliament to be a single point of information and advice on equality issues. They were given a mandate to challenge discrimination, and protect and promote human rights. The Commission for Scotland champions equality and human rights for all in Scotland.

Equality Challenge Unit was created in partnership between the Funding Councils and Universities UK, brings together equal opportunities initiatives and good practice from across the Higher Education sector.

Stonewall works to achieve legal equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people.

Press for Change is a political lobbying and educational organisation, which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all transgender people in the United Kingdom, through legislation and social change.

Disability.gov.uk provides helpful advice on disability rights and legislation to help establish fully comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people in the UK.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is one of the largest independent social policy research and development charities in the UK. It supports a wide programme of research and development projects in housing, social care and social policy. The site contains some good discussion forums for race and disability.

Athena Swan promotes the advancement of women's careers in STEMM academia. The University has been awarded their bronze award.

Our Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Calendar (PDF)

As part of our commitment to social justice - embracing equality, diversity, inclusion, and the respect and support of our community, we have developed a Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Calendar.

The calendar will act as the focus of communications, events and initiatives associated with its themes.