University of Pau and the Adour Region – Pau, France

The University of Pau and the Adour Region is committed to “Being a responsible university” with a focus on supporting students with disabilities and fighting against harassment and gender-based violence and for gender equality. Its Equality Diversity mission was established by the Rector of the University with the aim for actions to be taken in favour of equality and diversity at the University including implementing an action plan for gender equality in the workplace. This programme focuses on gender equality and LGBTQ+ students and staff. These equity groups were identified based on a national plan/legislation, the University’s internal policies and ongoing research into equality at the University. The institution does not have targets for access for specific equity groups.

In the last two years the program has carried out the following activities with regard to equal access/inclusion/diversity:

  • Support and counselling for students and university staff, 
  • Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff;
  • Training courses for peer educators. 

In addition to activities to support inclusion, the program implements binding policy (legislation), strategies/action plans, recommendations/guidelines and preventive programmes to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practices at the University.

The program also encapsulates innovative practices/tools such as the “UPPA Solidarity” initiative for students, which aims to actively strengthen inclusion and promote peer support. “UPPA Solidarité” was started in March 2021 and its objectives were to offer students a wide variety of support systems connected to health, well-being, digital autonomy, social assistance and food aid.

The programme was set up in order for actions to be taken in favour of equality and diversity. The motivation for it was the political will to act in support of equality and the resulting legal obligations. The programme is successful as a result of the University’s commitment to equality and diversity and management support.
The programme is framed by a legal and regulatory framework which posits, for example, that there is an obligation to employ 6% of people with disabilities, obligation to adopt a multi-year action plan for gender equality and prohibiting discrimination based on gender, race, sexuality, religious beliefs.
One person is in charge of the programme who can rely on the support of University services such as the human resources department, occupational health service or student health service. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are explicitly mentioned in the programme and in the University’s strategies, policies and work plans. Decisions about the programme are taken by university governing bodies including the Board of Directors, Council of Education and University Life and the University’s Rector and Vice-Rectors. The programme is part of local and national networks. This is valuable since it enables participation in training courses and workshops and to exchange good practices and initiatives.
The main challenge that had to be overcome to establish a successful programme was communication – how to inform people who do not feel concerned or are not aware of the challenges of equity and diversity. The programme largely relies on its funding from the University and there is a need for more funds. Obtaining additional funds is possible by responding to calls for projects from the Ministry in charge of education, but this funding only pertains to projects rather than long-term stability. Therefore an obstacle to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the programme is insufficient financial means, but also communication and information challenges.
There is a formal evaluation process of the programme. Quality indicators include number of training courses organized and number of trained participants. The resulting evaluation report is made public by being published on the University’s website.

Program for Equality and Diversity

Pau, France