Discrimination at University - race, gender, age

Discrimination is the unequal treatment of individuals, usually on the basis of gender, race, age, religion or disability; it is a negative action towards membership or perceived membership of a specific social group.

Universities and colleges must comply with discrimination legislation and a number of acts have specific provisions set out in them for universities. For example, the Equity Act 2010, the Age Discrimination Act, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Sexual Discrimination Act and the Race Discrimination Act.

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Gender discrimination

Gender discrimination was made unlawful by the Equity Act and the Sexual Discrimination Act. A university can be found to be acting unlawfully if they have treated anyone differently because of their gender, examples of this include: discriminating against certain genders, refusing an application, unfair exclusion of a student or denied access to facilities or materials on the basis of their gender.

Treating someone differently because of their gender is wrong and universities should have specific procedures in place to aim to ensure that this kind of discrimination is not accepted. This behaviour should be heavily monitored and assessed to make sure students are being treated fairly at all times.

Age discrimination

Discrimination against a student because of their age became unlawful in October 2006. This is the least highlighted type of discrimination as people are rarely discriminated against in person and do not always notice when this is taking place. A lot of the time students may feel they are not given certain opportunities and don’t know why, but when it comes to it they have found out that the university has been treating them differently because of their age.

Race discrimination

This occurs when an individual or group are treated differently because of their race and is covered by the Race Discrimination Act.

Racism is a topic that is commonly overlooked; a lot of the time students who have felt discriminated against have been accused of being too sensitive, with other students claiming it was merely ‘banter’.

Universities have a legal obligation to make sure racism in universities is not accepted but a lot of the time it can be hard to gather actual evidence to support their case. In what should be an equal rights country, it is surprising to realise just how much racism still occurs.

Disability discrimination

Disability discrimination is the most common form of discrimination in universities. This is because universities are bound by law to facilitate the requirements of someone who is considered to have a disability. Universities must ensure that students with disabilities know their rights and provide for any extra requirements for the student needs. This includes actions such as providing extra time on assessments and extra learning resources to students with conditions such as dyslexia and modifying their marking procedures to take these issues into account. For example some courses will indicate that spelling errors will result in a loss of marks, however if a student has dyslexia they should not be penalised for their disability. Therefore the institution would indicate that no penalty for spelling errors should be imposed on a student that suffers from dyslexia. Most discrimination claims come from the failure of institutions to do this.

No matter what disability you have, you should not be treated any less favourably because of it and if you think you have been then you will have grounds for a claim. This must be addressed within strict time limits (within 6 months of the last act of discrimination) and brought to the county court.

Talk to Stephensons

If you feel you have been discriminated against then get in touch straight away. It can be very hard to talk to someone about these kinds of cases, especially if you have tried to talk to someone before and you feel they have not listened to you, but we want to help.

At Stephensons we work with real people who can relate to your situation and who care about your rights - we aim to get the best remedy for you and listen to what you want to achieve from your claim.

Don’t go through this on your own.

Talk to a member of our team today. Call us on 0175 321 5096.

Student disability discrimination video

  • University Discrimination - Disabled Students

    This brief guide highlights the steps and adjustments a university should take to ensure that disabled students do not feel discriminated against during the course of their education. 
    [youtube url="​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK4xcEFCjYQ"]

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As an award-winning top 150 law firm, with over 450 staff based in offices across the country, you're never far from the advice you need.