I have an issue about education - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

I have an issue about education

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 (ESA) makes it unlawful for educational establishments to discriminate on any of the nine grounds.

Educational establishments include preschool services, primary or secondary schools, and institutions which provide continuing or third level education, for example universities.  This includes both public and private establishments.

Vocational training is covered under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, rather than the ESA.

It is unlawful for an educational establishment to discriminate in relation to:

  • admissions
  • Access to any course, facility or benefit they provide
  • Any other term or condition of participation
  • the expulsion of a student, or any other sanction against a student

However, there are some situations in which the ESA  allows people to be treated differently in schools, colleges and third-level institutions.

These are known as exemptions. These include for example:

  • Gender: Primary and secondary schools can be just for girls or just for boys.
  • Religion: Under reforms introduced by the Education (Admission to School) Act 2018, schools recognised under the Education Act 1998 can no longer use religion as a selection criterion in school admissions, in most cases. This change in the law still allows schools of minority religions to give preference to a student who seeks admission to a school providing religious instruction or education consistent with his or her minority religious beliefs, but only where the school is oversubscribed.
  • Religion and gender: Places which provide training for ministers of religion can admit students of only one gender and a particular religious belief.
  • Age: Places which educate adults can treat mature students differently so as to encourage them to attend. For example, they may have easier entry requirements than students coming straight from school.
  • Disability: The school or college must provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities who need them so that they can participate fully. However, a place of education can treat a student with a disability differently if the nature of their disability it would make it impossible or very difficult to teach other students.
  • Nationality: Places which educate adults can have different rules about fees, admission and grants for students who are citizens of countries outside the EU.
  • Age, gender and disability: In the provision or organisation of sporting facilities or sporting events, t is not discrimination to treat people differently where it is reasonably necessary, according to age, gender or disability.  For example, competitions on sports day could be just for girls or just for boys of a certain age.

There are other forms of exemption under the ESA, including:

Do you think that you have been discriminated against?