Definitions of an EIA by Key Institutions

Scottish Government (endorsed by the Scottish Funding Council):
“Equality impact assessment is all about considering how your policy (by policy we mean activities, functions, strategies, programmes, and services or processes) may impact, either positively or negatively, on different sectors of the population in different ways.”

Specific Duties for Scotland - legal extract:

"Regulation 5 requires a listed authority to assess, where and to the extent necessary to fulfil the equality duty, the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice against the needs mentioned in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010.  Any consideration as to whether or not it is necessary to assess the impact of a policy or practice for these purposes is not to be treated as an assessment of impact.  Paragraphs (2) to (4) do not therefore apply in relation to, for example, an initial screening exercise to establish whether or not an assessment is required.  Where an assessment is made and the authority decides to apply the policy or practice to which it relates, the authority must publish the results of that assessment within a reasonable period.  A listed authority must also make arrangements to review any policy or practice that it applies to ensure that, in exercising its functions, it complies with the equality duty."

Higher Education Funding Council for England:
“...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.”

Equality & Human Rights Commission:
“The general equality duty requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination; advance equality of opportunity; and foster good relations – when making decisions and setting policies. To do this, it is necessary for the organisation to understand the potential effects of its activities on different people. Where these are not immediately apparent, it may be necessary to carry out some form of assessment or analysis, in order to understand them.”

Advance HE (ECU):
"Equality impact assessments are a tool to help higher education institutions ensure that their policies are fair, meet the needs or their staff and students and that they are not inadvertently discriminating against any particular group (for example, men and women, disabled people and people from different ethnic groups). Equality impact assessments are also a requirement of UK equality law."