Student equality, diversity and inclusion report 2019 Frequently asked questions

Some other university websites have not displayed outcome statistics with regards to protected characteristics. Does that mean that students are better off there?

Universities are not obligated to publish indicators of progression in relation to most of the areas and measures identified on the diversity pages; the exception to this rule is the obligation to report the gender pay gap. Some universities have begun to publish indicators of their progression in relation to several measures. The decision about whether to publish gap data is generally not an indication of how well an institution is doing against the measures.

St Andrews has chosen to share this information as a part of the University’s strategic priority to drive forward its diversity agenda. We have chosen to publish our gap data because we are committed to:

  • placing diversity and inclusion at the heart of the St Andrews experience
  • being as transparent as possible about the extent to which our community is diverse
  • closing identified gaps in performance and providing an opportunity for staff and students to engage with the information.

In March 2019, the Office for Students published an access and participation data dashboard, which can be filtered by higher education institutions (HEIs). This dataset makes publicly available each HEI’s progression against various measures. As is apparent from the benchmarking statistics, St Andrews progression against the identified measures are typically in line with or an improvement on UK and Scottish HE trends.

What do the identified gaps mean for me as an individual?

The information and trends presented in the diversity reports should not be assumed to impact individual students. We are instead reporting institutional trends and trends for specific groups, in relation to Scottish and UK landscapes. Where there is evidence that specific groups may be experiencing a disadvantage, we are committed to addressing the underlying causes and improving outcomes. St Andrews values all students, and we aim to continually provide an inclusive environment.

St Andrews is publishing these reports because we believe that it is only through identifying and being transparent about the trends in our progression that we can seek to improve the experiences for all students and close any identified gaps.

If I identify under more than one equality characteristics (for example, gender and race), will that further impact equal opportunities at the University for me?

The University student body is made up of people from a range of different backgrounds - they differ by ethnicity, nationality, age, class, gender, disability, sexual orientation, faiths and philosophies of life. It is generally accepted that multiple identities, characteristics, social positions and factors intersect to create a person’s unique experiences and perspectives. St Andrews acknowledges that recognising intersectionality and addressing any comparative disadvantage that emerges from a range of characteristics is a key aspect of ensuring an inclusive environment.

What are the underlying causes of the identified gaps at St Andrews?

As evidenced by the UK and Scottish benchmarking statistics in higher education (HE), many of the identified gaps are sector-wide and therefore not unique to St Andrews. It is generally accepted the reasons behind the identified gaps are structural in nature and multifaceted, including institutional culture and historical institutional biases. The University has therefore prioritised the following:

  • strategic focus on understanding and addressing identified gaps
  • achieving greater racial and ethnic diversity, by seeking to address the experience of students from BAME communities, in order to make meaningful interventions in respect of widening participation and representation.

There is no information here about sexual orientation, what does that mean?

At present, St Andrews has sufficient information to accurately publish and benchmark progression against the identified performance indicators for ethnicity, gender and disability.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) do publish information with respect to sexual orientation. However, as the return of this data is currently voluntary, HESA do not yet have a national demographic understanding of the HE student population with respect to this.

St Andrews is committed to understanding performance indicators against all characteristics. If you have a suggestion or observation regarding equality of opportunity and sexual orientation, please email

Who should I contact if I have a suggestion as to how to address the identified gaps?

One of the reasons we have decided to publish these reports is to give the St Andrews community the opportunity to engage with the findings. If you would like to make a suggestion or observation regarding any of the findings, please email

Diversity is a cornerstone of the St Andrews Strategy (2018-2023), as such we are committed to the ideals of equality and inclusion. If you therefore prefer to discuss module or School-specific suggestions with a member of staff, feel free to do so.