Equality Policy

Magdalen College fully supports the aims of the Equality Act 2010, and has due regard in its decision-making to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, victimisation and harassment and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people from different protected groups, including:
    • Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics;
    • Meeting the needs of people with protected characteristics;
    • Encouraging people with protected characteristics to participate in areas where their representation is low.
  • Foster good relations between people from different protected groups, including tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.

The Equality Act 2010 covers eight protected characteristics to which all three arms of the general equality duty set out above (eliminating discrimination, advancing equality, and fostering good relations) apply:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief (including lack of belief)
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Public authorities also need to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination in employment against someone because of their:

  • Marriage or civil partnership status.

This means that the first arm of the duty applies to this characteristic but that the other arms (advancing equality and fostering good relations) do not apply.


Magdalen College welcomes diversity among its staff, students, alumni, and visitors, recognising the particular contributions to the achievement of the College’s mission which can be made by individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.


Magdalen aims to provide an inclusive environment which promotes equality, values diversity, and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected, to assist them in reaching their full potential. The College will work to remove any barriers which might deter people of the highest potential and ability from applying to the College, either as staff or students.


The College is committed to using its best endeavours to ensure that all of its activities are governed by principles of equality of opportunity. As far as is practicable, no prospective or actual student or member of staff will unjustifiably be treated less favourably than any other, whether before, during, or after their study or employment at Magdalen College on one or more of the following grounds (subject to any legal constraints and in relation to the protected characteristics laid out in the Equality Act 2010): age; disability; gender (including gender reassignment); marital or civil partnership status; parental status; pregnancy or childbirth; race (including colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origin); religion or belief (including lack of belief); sex; sexual orientation; or length or type of contract (e.g. part-time or fixed term).


This policy applies to all members of the College community, both students and staff, whether permanent, temporary, casual, part-time or on fixed-term contracts, to job applicants, to student applicants, current and former students, to honorary and associate members, and to visitors to the College.


With regard to students, this policy applies, but is not limited to, admissions, to teaching, learning and research provision, to scholarships, grants and other awards and benefits under the College’s control, to student support and welfare, to access to College accommodation and to other buildings, facilities and services, to health and safety, to personal conduct, and to student complaints and disciplinary procedures.


The College expects all its staff, students and visitors to take personal responsibility for familiarising themselves with this policy and to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner towards other staff, students (prospective, current, and former) and visitors. Members of the College community have a duty to treat colleagues with respect at all times, and not to discriminate against, victimise or harass other students, members of staff or visitors, whether junior or senior to them. The College regards any breach of this policy by any employee(s) or student(s) as a serious matter to be dealt with through its agreed procedures and which may result in disciplinary action.


The College through this Equality Policy, its Codes of Practice on Harassment and Freedom of Speech, and its other policies and frameworks seeks to promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all men and women working and studying at the College or applying to do so, and to ensure equality of access to all services provided by the College. Magdalen College is a College in the University of Oxford, and works closely with the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit (http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/).

In accordance with its specific duties under the Equality Act 2010, the College has adopted the following two Equality objectives for the years 2012-13 to 2015-16, and reports below on progress in achieving them:

  1.  To develop further Magdalen’s outreach and access work.
  2. To improve the College’s processes for the collection and analysis of Equal Opportunities data on students and staff.

The College’s Equality work covers a much wider range than that referred to in these objectives, and further information about the extent of this follows.


Objective 1:

In respect of the College’s first objective, there has been a transformation in the range and scale of outreach and access activity by the College.

Outreach encompasses widening access, widening participation, and student recruitment. Under the University’s regionalisation scheme, Magdalen is linked with the local authorities of Barnsley, Brent, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Rotherham, Sheffield, and Westminster. For further information on the scheme, see http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/open-days-outreach/events-students-teachers/resources-teachers/link-colleges.

In 2012 the College appointed its first full-time Outreach Officer. The year 2012-13 saw a substantial increase in outreach activities, with 42 Outreach Officer-led events, involving 64 different schools and over 1,250 students. A Student Ambassador scheme was created to provide visiting school pupils with the opportunity to engage with current students, and a Student Ambassador Roadshow took place in South Yorkshire. A termly newsletter was developed to inform link schools of outreach events and opportunities at Magdalen and Oxford, and in January 2013 a Magdalen Outreach Twitter feed, @MagdOutreach, was set up to enable communication with link schools and interested students to take place in a less formal setting. Cooperation was established with Cambridge College Outreach and Schools Liaison Officers with responsibility for the same link regions as Magdalen, leading to events in Brent and Westminster. Magdalen also became an active support of the Pathways Programme, a cross-college initiative, with support from the Sutton Trust, which works with non-selective state school pupils in Years 10 to 13 and aims to raise aspirations for, and encourage applications to, Oxford. In 2013-14, all of the previous year’s initiatives were continued and developed. The College also contributed to the University’s Women in Science days, was represented at evening events in link regions aimed at women in STEM and Oxbridge, and began to build a strong relationship with education charity IntoUniversity, which works with schools in many areas of low progression that have a high concentration of BME students. In 2014-15, besides building on the work of the previous two years, the College saw its first Outreach Fellow take up office, with responsibility for oversight of the College’s outreach work, and there has been greater coordination of outreach activity between the numerous members of College involved in this work, including the JCR and MCR committee members with responsibility for access. Further development of Magdalen’s outreach initiatives is also a key part of the College’s Strategic Plan for 2015-20, which was agreed this year.


Objective 2:

In respect of the College’s second objective, the processes for the collection and analysis of Equal Opportunities data on students and staff have been considerably improved. The data on students are considered annually by the Academic Policy Committee, and the data on staff by the Human Resources Committee.

The bulk of the data available to the Academic Policy Committee is provided by the University’s Student Data Management and Analysis team, and some of the data are available on the University website (http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/aad/sdma/statistics/student/). The Academic Policy Committee did not note any concerning trends in the data on protected characteristics for current students in the years 2012-13, 2013-14, or 2014-15, and consistently felt that the College should continue to further its efforts to attract high-quality applicants from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible. In respect of Final Examination Results, in 2013 the percentages of Magdalen’s female and male students achieving Firsts were 21% and 49% respectively (for the University as a whole, 26% and 34% respectively); however, they were very close in 2014 (women 31%; men 34%; University – 27% and 35% respectively) and 2015 (women 44%; men 45%; University – 25% and 36% respectively), the latter year seeing the second-best Finals performance of any Magdalen cohort.

Information about the College’s provision of support for disabled applicants and students is given below.

In respect of Equality data on staff, the Human Resources Committee has considered both recruitment data and data on current employees. The recruitment data were gathered on 24 academic and non-academic posts in 2012, 27 in 2013, and 25 in 2014. The Committee has noted that the completeness of the information available to it is very much dependent on the proportion of applicants who submit the anonymous forms, and the proportions of those doing so in 2014 were scrutinized in 2015 with a view to establishing whether more complete and useful data might become available in 2016. Most of the posts considered are non-academic rather than academic: the majority of the College’s senior academic appointments are made jointly with the University. The University has gathered and published monitoring and statistical data and other Equality information in a series of reports available from:


These reports incorporate data on members of the College’s academic staff who hold a joint appointment with the University.

In 2014-15, up-to-date Equality data were gathered on the College’s workforce by means of an anonymous questionnaire, which was returned by 110 of the College’s current employees. The analysis of this (e.g. female staff 52%; BME staff 16%; staff with a disability 10%) appeared to show results broadly in line with expectations for the sector. Further data will be gathered in 2015-16 with a view to considering analysis of the evolution of the workforce over time, and to seeing whether comparability can be established between recruitment data and data on current staff.

There is a variety of other Equality work within the College beyond that related to Magdalen’s specific Equality objectives. In 2014-15 the College’s Harassment policy was revised following the revision of the University’s Harassment policy, and the College’s Freedom of Speech policy will be reviewed in 2015-16. The College’s policy on parental leave is regularly updated. But perhaps the most extensive regular Equality work is in respect of disabled students and staff.

When an applicant for a place at Magdalen declares a disability, the applicant is contacted by the College, and the Admissions Officer liaises with the candidate and key College staff to ensure that appropriate adjustments can be put in place in good time for the interview process. Successful candidates are encouraged in their offer letters to disclose any disability if they have not already done so. The College’s Student Support Administrator liaises with the student and the University’s Disability Advisory Service (DAS), and the College’s designated Disability Adviser at the DAS makes arrangements with the student for a disability assessment. The assessment leads to a Student Support Plan, on the basis of which provision can be tailored to the particular needs of that student.

Adjustments in College take a variety of forms, including choice of room, furniture or equipment (such as beds, chairs, or desks), assistance in the case of visual or aural impairment (such as devices to alert students with hearing impairment to a fire alarm), transportation, the location of teaching, and examination adjustments. The examination adjustments, which involve liaison between the College’s Academic Administrator, the DAS, the College Doctor, and the University Proctors, vary widely from case to case, and can include extra writing time, the use of a word processor, the use of special software (e.g. for mathematical or musical notation, or for particular languages), the provision of a separate examination room, the use of one or more amanuenses (sometimes one for each sub-discipline of an Honour School) or readers, and arrangement of overnight supervision for those unable to take examinations on particular days (this can be for various reasons, including disability and the timing of religious holidays). Where practicable, examination arrangements for students who have had adjustments approved for their University examinations are used for their College examinations (‘collections’), which assists students by giving practice in sitting examinations in the appropriate conditions, as well as helping to ensure fair assessment of their progress.

In respect of improving access to College facilities for members of College and visitors to the College, much work has been done in recent years, in consultation with the relevant planning and other authorities, including the creation of accessible accommodation and teaching space, the installation of a lift in Cloisters to give access to meeting room and library space, and new accessible toilet facilities. A number of access improvements are scheduled for 2015-16, and accessibility is an important element in the College’s Strategic Plan for 2015-20.

The College’s JCR and MCR committees are also engaged in Equality work. The JCR has four Equalities Officers (a Women’s Officer, an LGBTQ Officer, a Disabled Students’ Officer, and a BME Students’ Officer, the latter two positions created in 2014-15), who are active in running and advertising events, including discussion groups, workshops, and social events. The MCR is similarly active; in 2014 it added an LGBTQ Officer to its committee structure, and in 2015 it added four new Equalities Officers (or Liberation Representatives) – a Women’s Officer, a Disabled Students’ Officer, a Racial Equality Officer, and an additional LGBTQ Officer. In 2014, the College accepted a proposal from the JCR and MCR to fly the Rainbow Flag on one day in February, to give a public expression of its commitment to provide a welcoming, safe, and supportive environment for both work and leisure for all members of the College, whatever their sexual orientation. In 2015, the College accepted a proposal from the JCR and MCR to fly the Rainbow Flag for one week of LGBTQ History month every year.