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Trinity College Dublin

Equality Policy


1 Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to outline Trinity College Dublin’s commitment to promoting equality in all aspects of the College’s activity: employment, education and service provision; and to detail how this policy will be implemented.

The College aims to provide an inclusive environment which promotes equality and values diversity – and is committed to maintaining an environment of dignity and respect where all staff and students can develop their full potential. The concept of equality is central to the College’s ethos of academic and service excellence.

Trinity College Dublin is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to the continued development of employment policies, procedures and practices which do not discriminate on grounds such as gender, civil status, family status, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or membership of the Travelling community.

This policy outlines the actions the College will take to identify and remove any barriers to accessing and participating in College as a student or staff member or service user.


This policy is developed in the context of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 and Equal Status Acts 2000-2012 which prohibit direct and indirect discrimination, sexual harassment, harassment and victimisation in relation to nine equality grounds: gender, family status, civil status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, ethnicity and membership of the Traveller community.

The Employment Equality Acts prohibit discrimination in employment – including recruitment, promotion, pay and other conditions of employment. The Equal Status Acts prohibit discrimination in access to and provision of services, accommodation and educational establishments.

The Universities Act 1997 places obligations on universities to promote equality, including gender balance, and access.

The Disability Act 2005 places significant obligations on public bodies in terms of providing integrated access to services and information to people with disabilities, as well as promoting the employment of people with disabilities.

This policy reflects the College’s commitment to meet its obligations under these Acts.

Scope of policy:

This policy applies to:

All applicants for employment, employees and all those who work for the College and relates to all decisions in relation to recruitment and selection, promotion, access to training and terms and conditions of employment.

All students and student applicants and relates to all decisions in respect of the admission of students and the provision of all services to students including teaching and supervision, assessment, progression and award and support services.

All service users, visitors, customers and clients of the College and relates to all services provided by the College in its diverse activities both internal and external.

Note: hereafter ‘service user’ will be used to denote customers, members of the public, visitors and clients.


Consultation was carried out with a range of administrative and student service areas, senior management, student representatives and the Equality Committee in drawing up this policy.

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2 Statement of Commitment

2.1 The College:

  • Is committed to non-discrimination (direct or indirect) in access and participation in education and employment in relation to any of the nine equality grounds: gender, family status, civil status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, ethnicity and membership of the Traveller community.
  • Seeks to ensure that services provided are free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Supports an inclusive environment of dignity and respect where all staff and students can develop their full potential. Will not tolerate harassment or bullying of staff, students or other members of the College community. [All members are protected by the College Dignity and Respect Policy, failure to comply can result in disciplinary action].
  • Is committed to a programme which will seek to identify barriers to equality and full participation and imbalances within College practices where they exist, and take action to redress these.
  • Is committed to providing integrated accessible services and information to people with and without disabilities. Will seek to ensure that information is produced in accessible information formats [in compliance with the College Accessible Information Policy].
  • Will seek to provide reasonable accommodation to students, staff and service users with disabilities. Will support the employment of staff with disabilities [as outlined in the College Code of Practice for the Employment of People with Disabilities].
  • Is committed to widening participation and facilitating access to its programmes by students from under-represented groups and by mature students [as per the College Access Plan].
  • Will develop positive action measures to support particular groups who may be disadvantaged or under-represented in accessing education, employment or promotion where appropriate.
  • Will seek to accommodate diversity in service provision across all 9 equality grounds where practicable.

2.2 Mainstreaming

College seeks to mainstream equality in its planning processes so as to ensure an equality perspective comprehending the nine protected equality groups is incorporated into all College activities and policies.

The implementation of this policy will mean taking into account the impact of strategic plans and other business, academic or development strategies on staff, students and services users from across the nine equality grounds as part of the usual decision-making process.
Guidance on equality mainstreaming and proofing can be sought from the Equality Officer.

2.3 Other policies

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies:

  • Accessible Information Policy
  • Code of Practice Applying to the Employment of People with Disabilities.
  • Code of Practice Applying to Students with Disabilities
  • College Access Plan 2009-2013
  • Dignity and Respect Policy
  • Fitness to Practice policy
  • Recruitment procedures
  • Service Charter (currently being drafted)
  • Student Charter
  • Student Mental Health Policy

Definitions are included in Appendix 1.

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3. Equality in employment (staff)

This section outlines how the College’s commitments to equality, non-discrimination and equal access and participation apply to the College’s employment practices and procedures. The policy affects all areas of employment practice including recruitment and selection, training and development, progression, pay, employment conditions and retention.

3.1 Recruitment and selection

In relation to recruitment and selection the College will:

  • Not discriminate directly or indirectly against any applicant or candidate to employment in relation to any of the nine equality grounds.
  • Select candidates on the basis of Merit – ensuring the candidate with the talent, skills, competencies and experience most suited to the post is selected.
  • Identify and remove any unnecessary barriers that might impede the application or selection of an eligible candidate, across all nine equality grounds. Ensure the application process is open to any eligible candidate who wishes to apply.
  • Provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities throughout the selection process as outlined in the College’s Code of Practice Applying to the Employment of people with disabilities.
  • Develop inclusive recruitment practices that acknowledge the diversity of applicants and candidates to College.
  • Provide a flexible service and facilitate communication between applicants and Recruitment staff in order to facilitate the recruitment process for all. Provide materials in accessible or alternative formats as per the Accessible information policy.
  • Seek information on the diversity profile of employment applicants to ensure College is attracting a representative sample of people from different backgrounds. Seek feedback and consult with applicants or other interest groups to ensure quality of service.
  • All Recruitment staff will receive training in the implementation of this policy.
  • Ensure transparency of recruitment procedures.


Provide a job specification that specifies essential and desirable requirements, skills, knowledge, experience and competencies for the position.

Ensure the job descriptions and advertisements do not directly or indirectly exclude any potential applicant or include any unnecessary requirements that would unfairly exclude an applicant in relation to any of the nine equality grounds.

Direct recruitment to ensure that advertisements reach candidates across all nine equality grounds (by advertising in a variety of media for example).


  • Provide training in equality and diversity (as well as recruitment skills) to all members who participate on interview panels.
  • Committed to an agreed and objective system of rating candidates (by experience, skill, qualifications etc as relevant).
  • Any medical test required will be assessed in relation to the specific duties of the job. Employees who disclose a disability will be provided with reasonable accommodation as outlined in the Code of Practice.

Particular responsibility for the implementation of these actions lies with the Human Resources and Recruitment section.

3.2 Training and development

College will

  • Ensure every employee has equal access to training and development opportunities regardless of disability or any other equality ground.
  • seek to ensure that programmes provided are inclusive and accommodate the diversity of staff.
  • Mainstream equality issues in training programmes where relevant

3.3 Progression

College will

  • Ensure all staff enjoy equal access to progression and promotional opportunities regardless of any of the nine equality grounds.
  • Monitor promotional processes regarding gender (and other equality criteria where appropriate) in order to ensure equality of opportunity in career progression in College.
  • Remove any identified barriers to progression for particular groups of staff under the nine grounds and where appropriate implement measures to redress imbalances.

3.4 Retention and wellbeing

  • Seek to retain and develop talent in College’s diverse staff from across all nine equality grounds.
  • Every effort will be made to retain employees who develop a disability, as per the Code of Practice.
  • Provide equal access to work life balance policies and benefits as appropriate.
  • Provide access to the College’s Employee Assistance Programme as widely as possible.
  • Provide regular information to staff on benefits and entitlements through the Human Resources web page.
  • Ensure that College’s Dignity and Respect Policy is upheld through awareness-raising.
  • Throughout all industrial relations matters (grievances, disciplinary matters etc) consideration will be given to accommodating diversity across the nine equality grounds.


All other employment practices and procedures will be reviewed regularly to ensure they comply with this policy and support equality of access, opportunity and participation.

See Section 5 for details on the responsibilities and implementation of this policy.

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4. Equality in service provision (students and other service users)

This section outlines how the College’s commitments to equality, non-discrimination and to equal access and participation apply to the College’s educational and other services.

College will ensure equality of access and opportunity for students and will ensure its admissions process, assessment and other procedures do not discriminate directly or indirectly against any student in relation to any of the nine equality grounds.

College services will seek to provide high quality services in an inclusive, accessible and flexible manner to the diversity of the student and service user population.

4.1 Widening Participation

The College facilitates access to its programmes by students from under-represented groups through its outreach activities, its foundation courses and its alternative admissions routes. The College maintains a range of student services so as to support students appropriately during their academic careers, and to aid them in the successful completion of their course.

Specific targets and objectives, as well as the resources for implementation, are outlined in the College Access Plan 2009-2013.

Inclusive teaching and learning

College aims to embed inclusiveness within all activities and academic practices. The Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (TIC) is a project supporting the College’s overall mission to enhance the student experience, and in line with the strategic aims of increasing diversity and internationalisation. TIC and the Centre for Academic Practice and Student Learning offer a range of guidelines, templates and resources to enable staff to embed inclusive principles within their teaching and assessment practices.

4.2 Accommodating diversity

The College will seek to accommodate the diversity of students and service users from across the nine equality grounds and other under-represented groups by:

  • Actively identifying and addressing student and service user needs across the nine grounds and from other under-represented groups. Different data, feedback and consultation methods will be used for this purpose.
  • Providing reasonable accommodation for students and service users with disabilities and providing integrated access to services where practicable.
  • Exploring barriers to participation for service users and students.
  • Taking positive action measures to promote equality of opportunity for disadvantaged persons where necessary.
  • Ensuring flexibility in the operation of systems and services to allow for the diversity within the service user and student base to be accommodated.

Reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities

College seeks to ensure that students, staff and service users with a disability have as complete and equitable an access to all services and facets of College life as can reasonably be provided. College is committed to a programme of improving the physical access of facilities and to providing accessible information.

The College’s Code of Practice for Students with Disabilities sets out the supports available, rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities in College and procedures for availing of reasonable accommodation. The College Disability Service is the centralised service offering support to students with disabilities.

Other service users: College will seek to anticipate the requirements of other service users and visitors to the College with disabilities and to identify and remove any unnecessary barriers to these service users accessing the relevant services. College will facilitate the provision of accessible information, alternative formats or means of communication and other accommodations where practicable (as per the Accessible Information policy). College seeks to create an environment where service users with disabilities can discuss what their needs are with staff. 

4.4 Student and Service user feedback

College welcomes feedback from students and service users from across the nine equality grounds.
College has developed quality enhancement systems to collect feedback on academic programmes from students.

College services have feedback and complaint systems in place; College is currently in the process of developing Guidelines in Respect of Quality Customer Service for Customer clients.
Regular consultation with student and staff representatives occurs via the College Committee system.

4.5 Promoting equality in services

The College will continue to develop systems to collect and examine information relating to the diversity of the student and service user body regarding the nine equality grounds and other under-represented groups in order to ensure service quality for all. The College will seek to identify areas of disadvantage and barriers to participation from students and service users -from time to time surveys, focus groups or other means of consultation will be implemented as appropriate, including external reviews. The Equality Committee has a particular role in overseeing the development and embedding of equality monitoring processes.

The College will implement measures to ensure equality of access and participation to its students and service users.

Each area which provides a service (academic, student service or other) will have the responsibility for ensuring the inclusiveness of their services and for identifying strategies to address any potential barriers to student or service user participation. Service areas will report annually on the implementation of this policy within their annual reports.

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5. Implementation

5.1 Responsibility

The Board of the College is responsible for the management and control of the affairs of the College, subject to the provisions of the Statutes and Charter. The Board has appointed an Equality Committee charged with responsibility for the development and monitoring of policies and practices in relation to equality.

Each area that provides a service, academic, student service or other type of service, has the responsibility to ensure the service provided upholds the commitments outlined in this policy.

Deans, Heads of School and Discipline, Line Managers, Supervisors and others in positions of authority should seek to ensure that the equality policy is upheld in respect of staff, students, service users and other members of the College community.

All staff play a role in implementing this policy. All students, service users and others conducting business with the organization should cooperate with the implementation of this policy. Business contracts will reflect this requirement.

Specific targets for the participation of under-represented students have been set in the College’s Strategic Plan 2009-2013.
College will include objectives for the implementation of this policy in future strategic plans.

The Equality Committee is responsible for reviewing the implementation of this policy regularly and for any amendments to the policy [the policy will be reviewed at least every three years].

5.2 Communications

Communication with students, staff and service users:

Materials produced by the College will be provided in a relevant and accessible manner to students, staff and service users across the nine equality grounds.

The Accessible Information Policy of the College sets out a formal commitment by the College that information should be available in an accessible format, without discrimination against those with print disabilities. Information in paper, electronic and web formats will be made accessible following the guidelines on clear print and alternative formats included in this policy.

advertising and marketing
Advertising and marketing strategies will be non-discriminatory and communicate the College’s commitment to equality and diversity.

Direct contact
College will seek to ensure that in its direct contact students, staff and service users are treated in a courteous and professional manner consistent with an environment of dignity and respect

Communicating the Policy

College will seek to communicate this policy effectively to all staff, managers, students, service users, Trade Unions and associations,  and business contracts by a variety of internal means of communication: website, e-mail, information materials, provision of training, publication and dissemination etc.

5.3 Equality infrastructure

The Equality Committee will support the implementation of this policy. The Equality Committee is a Principal Committee of Board with staff and student representation.

The Equality Officer has an advisory role to the Equality Committee and will support College in implementing this policy, liaising with relevant departments and services and providing advice to staff and students on the contents of this policy.  

Other relevant units with particular roles regarding the implementation of this policy:

The College Disability Service: The Disability Service aims to provide appropriate advice, support and information to help students and staff with disabilities.

Mental Health
Unilink: Unilink is a confidential, practical support service for staff and students who may be experiencing mental health difficulties. Unilink is based on campus and is run by the Discipline of Occupational Therapy in collaboration with the Disability Service.

Widening Participation
Trinity Access Programmes: The Trinity Access Programmes (TAP) are part of Trinity's contribution to tackling social exclusion, through a range of innovative, targeted initiatives for individuals who, for socio-economic reasons, have not yet realised their full educational potential.
The National Institute for Intellectual Disability(NIID): has been established at Trinity College to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disability and their families in further education.

Mature students (23 and over)
The Mature Students Officer: Trinity College Dublin’s Mature Students Officer, Clodagh Byrne, provides advice and support to both prospective and current mature students.

Inclusive curriculum
Trinity Inclusive Curriculum Project (TIC): TIC is a project supporting the College’s aim to enhance the student experience and embed inclusive teaching and assessment practices.

Women in science
WiSER: the Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Research (WiSER) works to recruit, retain, return and advance women in academic science, engineering & technology.

5.4 Equality and Diversity awareness

College will implement equality and diversity training and awareness programmes in order to ensure the implementation throughout College of this Equality policy with regard to employment and service delivery. Equality and diversity will be mainstreamed in training programmes relevant to employment, teaching or service user service.

The Human Resources and Equality Committee have a particular responsibility with regard to these commitments. 

5.5. Business contracts

College will seek to ensure that other companies from whom it has contracted to receive goods and services are aware this policy is in place and that these companies are expected to comply with it. Breach of this policy or the Dignity and Respect policy will constitute grounds to suspend the contract.

5.6 Complaints- staff, students, service users

The College’s Code of Governance requires the College to prepare ‘Guidelines in respect of Quality Customer Service for Customer and Clients’.  This work is at the early stage of development and when completed will provide a framework for handling complaints across all areas of the College’s activities.

The College’s complaint procedures do not affect the right of a person to initiate a complaint under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2012 or the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011.

Complaint procedure for staff members regarding employment matters - follow the usual staff grievance procedures through line-management structures. For information contact the Human Resources or see

Complaint procedures for academic matters (students) - academic appeals procedures. For information on undergraduate appeals consult the College Calendar Part I, General Regulations or contact the Senior Tutor’s Office. For information on postgraduate academic appeals consult the College Calendar Part II  or contact the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Bullying and harassment
Dignity and Respect complaints procedures: consult the Dignity and Respect Policy detailing formal and informal processes .

Access and service provision
Disability Act complaints procedure: The College has appointed two Inquiry Officers to process complaints which people with disabilities may have in relation to the services offered by Trinity College Dublin. The Inquiry Officer will investigate a complaint and report their findings in writing to both the Provost and the complainant.

5.7 Monitoring and review

College will actively seek feedback on the implementation of this policy from staff, students and service users.

The implementation of the policy will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Equality Committee and the policy updated on foot of this review or other legal developments, at least every three years.

Each service, administrative and academic area will include a report on the implementation of this policy in their Annual Report and will facilitate the Equality Committee with the relevant information in order to monitor implementation.

The Equality Committee will report on the overall implementation of this policy in its Annual Report.

5.8 Further sources of information

Equality Officer
West Theatre
Trinity College, Dublin 2
T 01 896 3282

Equality Committee
The Equality Committee secretary is the Equality Officer, contact details for correspondence above.

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Staff supports

Student Supports

5.9 Appendix 1 Definitions

About Equality
The principal of equality is enshrined in many international and EU treaties and declarations.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sees equality as a fundamental principle in terms of a person’s human rights – ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, Art. 1.

The key equality legislation in Ireland are the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 and Equal Status Acts 2000-2012.

Equality grounds

gender: a man, a woman, or a transsexual person

civil status: single, married, separated, divorced, widowed, civil partner, former civil partner.

family status: pregnant, a parent of a person under 18 years, or the resident primary carer or parent of a person with a disability;

age: this only applies to people over 16 except for the provision of car insurance to licensed drivers under this age;

race and ethnicity: a particular race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin;

religion: different religious belief, background, outlook or none;

disability: this is broadly defined including people with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions                       

sexual orientation: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual;

membership of the Traveller community: people who are commonly called Travellers, who are identified both by Travellers and others as people with a shared history, culture and traditions, identified historically as a nomadic way of life on the island of Ireland.

Discrimination is prohibited and has a specific meaning in the Employment Equality Acts and Equal Status Acts. Discrimination is defined as the treatment of a person in a less favourable way than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the nine equality grounds.
Discrimination can be direct, indirect, by association or imputation.

Indirect discrimination – indirect discrimination happens when there is less favourable treatment in effect or by impact. It happens when people are, for example, refused employment or training not explicitly on account of a discriminatory reason but because of a provision, practice or requirement which they find hard to satisfy. If the provision, practice or requirement puts people who belong to one of the grounds covered by the Acts at a particular disadvantage then the employer will have indirectly discriminated, unless the provision is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

Harassment is any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the nine discriminatory grounds that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

In both cases the unwanted conduct may include acts, requests, spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material.
The emphasis is on the effect of the unwanted conduct on the recipient, not on the intention of the perpetrator.

There are other forms of bullying and harassment which are not included in the Acts but covered by other legislation such as the Employment Equality Acts, the Unfair Dismissals Acts, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, Civil Law and Criminal Law.

Gender Mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming is the (re)-organization, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy making. (Council of Europe Group of Specialists definition).

The aim of gender mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality in practice.  Equality impact assessments and equality proofing are tools to achieving the goal of gender mainstreaming.
Gender mainstreaming involves an analysis of the effects of policies and practices on women and men respectively, as part of the usual decision-making process.

Positive action
The Equality Acts allow for preferential treatment or the taking of positive measures which are bona fide intended to

  • Promote equality of opportunity
  • Cater for the special needs of persons, or a category of persons who because of their circumstances, may require facilities, arrangements, services or assistance

The Equality Acts do not allow for Positive discrimination.

Reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities - in service provision
A person selling goods or providing services, a person providing accommodation, educational institutions and clubs must do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability.

This involves providing special treatment or facilities in circumstances where without these, it would be impossible or unduly difficult to avail of the goods, services, accommodation etc.

However, they are not obliged to provide special facilities or treatment when this costs more than what is called a nominal cost. What amounts to nominal cost will depend on the circumstances such as the size and resources of the body involved. (Equal Status Acts).

Reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities - in employment
Nothing in the Act requires an employer to recruit or promote a person who is not fully competent and fully available and capable of undertaking the duties attached to the position. For the purposes of the Act a person who has a disability is considered fully competent and capable on reasonable accommodation (referred to as appropriate measures) being provided by the person’s employer.

An employer is obliged to take appropriate measures to enable a person who has a disability:

  • to have access to employment
  • to participate or advance in employment
  • to undertake training

unless the measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer.

Appropriate measures are practical measures to adapt the employer’s place of business including:

  • the adaptation of premises and equipment,
  • patterns of working time
  • distribution of tasks
  • or the provision of training or integration resources
  • The employer is not obliged to provide any treatment, facility or thing that the person might ordinarily or reasonably provide for himself or herself.

In determining whether the measures would impose a disproportionate burden, account is taken of the financial and other costs entailed, the scale and financial resources of the employer’s business, and the possibility of obtaining public funding or other assistance.
(Employment equality acts)

Service user: the policy applies to all service users, visitors, customers and clients of the College. The term ‘service user’ is then used as shorthand for all customers, visitors, clients, guests and service users of the College, including students.

Vicarious liability
Employers are liable for discriminatory acts of an employee in the course of his or her employment, unless they can prove that they took reasonably practicable steps to prevent the conduct.

5.9 Appendix 2 - Download TCD Equality Policy

Download TCD Equality Policy (PDF)

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| | Last updated: Feb 26 2014