|To:||Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
|Of interest to those responsible for:||Equality and diversity management, Human resources management, Institutional strategic planning|
|Publication date:||October 2004|
|Enquiries to:||Amy Norton
tel 0117 931 7316
Part 1 Context
What is impact assessment?
The business imperative
The legal imperative
Part 2 Carrying out an impact assessment
The different stages
Identifying policies and functions
Identifying the aims of a policy: the screening process
Consideration of available data
Eliminating or reducing any adverse impact found
Publication of impact assessment and findings
Monitoring for adverse impact in the future
Annex A How the specific duties fit into the general duty
Annex B Policy screening form
Annex C Impact assessment checklist
Annex D List of abbreviations
HEFCE is fully committed to promoting equal opportunities in higher education, and to helping universities and colleges meet their duties under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.
A key challenge for institutions in enhancing equality and diversity lies in understanding the needs of staff, students, stakeholders and the wider community and addressing those needs in their policies and practices.
We are keen to support the higher education sector in meeting that challenge. Following our guidance on monitoring for equality and diversity (HEFCE 2004/14), we have produced this guide on equality impact assessment for equality and diversity. It aims to show not only how impact assessments can be carried out in the higher education context, but also how such assessments can improve mechanisms for policy review and for embedding equality and diversity into all the institutions activities.
Although this guidance is primarily a toolkit for equality practitioners, we believe it will help higher education staff at all levels to understand the benefits of conducting impact assessments and using the results to help people fulfil their potential and to maximise resources.
We have worked closely with the Equality Challenge Unit in preparing this guidance, and are grateful to those institutions that provided examples of good practice and helped to pilot this guide, many of which are included here. We also appreciate the contribution by critical readers of this publication, including trades unions and practitioner networks, whose input ensured that the guidance remains a practical and constructive tool for institutions.
Sir Howard Newby
Higher Education Funding Council for England
1. This document provides practical guidance to higher education institutions (HEIs) in terms of assessing the impact of their institutional policies. It offers a step-by-step guide to carrying out impact assessments and provides a tool with which HEI staff can not only meet the requirements of legislation but also promote and celebrate equality and diversity in their institution.
2. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 places a requirement on all public authorities (including HEIs) to carry out impact assessments on the grounds of race. Although, by law, public authorities are currently required to undertake impact assessments only with respect to race equality, it is good practice to extend this to other equality areas such as gender, age, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation. This guidance is therefore intended to be used as a template which, appropriately modified, can be used to conduct impact assessments in other equality areas.
3. This document is aimed at senior managers, heads of department, equality practitioners and all those with a responsibility for policy formation and policy delivery in higher education (HE). These are the people responsible for carrying out or contributing to impact assessments in HEIs. It is also recommended reading for anyone working in HE, as the concept of impact assessment has to be incorporated into everyday working practices.
4. Impact assessment is the thorough and systematic analysis of a policy or practice to determine whether it has a differential impact on a particular group. It can be seen as a quality control mechanism by which HEIs can evaluate their activities and best meet the needs of their stakeholders. This can lead to better value for money, increased productivity and maximisation of resources, leading to a more efficient and effective working and learning environment.
5. The challenges to an institution in implementing equality impact assessments are not underestimated, hence the guidance emphasises the concepts of relevance and proportionality as the principles that should be adopted when deciding whether to undertake full impact assessments. This process should be regarded in the same way as any good management practice and resources for impact assessment directed to the policies, functions and practices which have the greatest relevance and impact on equality and diversity.
6. The impact assessment process follows a simple template. At an institutional level, all policies and practices of an institution are mapped out, and responsibilities are delegated to ensure thorough and systematic coverage of all institutional functions. The policies are then screened to determine equality relevance and ascertain priorities. Local and national data and consultations are used to ascertain if the policy or practice has an unjustified negative impact on any particular group. If a negative, or adverse, impact is found, then steps must be taken to eliminate it. This process has to be compiled in a report and publicised within the institution so that all staff and students are aware of any changes that have been made.
7. Impact assessments are not one-off exercises but should be incorporated into a three-year cycle of institutional review as recommended by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). Results of assessments should be monitored and made available for internal and external stakeholders.
8. At Annex A there is a visual demonstration of the relationship between the RR(A)As general and specific duties, which should help readers to visualise the role that impact assessment has in implementing the Act. Annex B contains a template for a policy screening form, which can be used for any policy within an institution, at its initial stages of development. There are mini-checklists at the end of each section which sum up the action points from that chapter. These are compiled into an impact assessment checklist at Annex C, which can be used as a self assessment tool.
9. This document is for information and guidance.