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Elaine Chandler

Executive Director of People, UCAS

In an ever-evolving world, the importance of equality and inclusion cannot be overstated. It is a fundamental aspect of creating a sense of belonging in our organisation so people can reach their true potential.


At the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), our dedication to equality and inclusion goes beyond our purpose and commitment to prospective students; it extends to our own colleagues. It is woven into the fabric of who we are and what we do, aiming to create a true feeling of belonging. We recognise that a diverse and inclusive workplace is not just a moral imperative; it’s essential for driving innovation, creativity and overall success.

Value of diverse abilities and identities

Diversity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a source of strength. We celebrate the unique perspectives, backgrounds and experiences that colleagues bring to our organisation. From different cultures and generations to the various life experiences and gender identities, we believe that a diverse workforce enriches our organisation. We strive to create an environment that encourages a sense of belonging for all through an experience that puts its people first. Over 90% of our colleagues are proud to work for us, with 88% stating it’s a great place to work.

Caring, connected experience at work

Creating an inclusive workplace means that every colleague feels valued and respected for who they are. Actively promoting an inclusive culture, open dialogue, respect, trust and empathy are at the core of our interactions. This culture is underpinned by the right policies, initiatives and best practices to ensure we are progressing in our diversity, equity and inclusion (EDI) journey in an accountable and transparent manner.

With one of our core values being ‘inclusive,’ we are dedicated to the wellbeing and professional progression of our colleagues. We provide access to mental health resources, support networks and flexible working arrangements to accommodate the diverse needs of our team members. We enable colleagues to work in a way that suits them best — where our people can thrive both professionally and personally. About 87% of our colleagues see UCAS as a supportive employer that genuinely cares for its people.

We encourage the formation of employee network groups that cater to specific interests, backgrounds and needs. These groups provide a platform for colleagues to connect, share experiences and work together to promote diversity and inclusion within the organisation. While we already have groups for menopause, LGBTQ+ and wellbeing, our aspirations continue to grow, with ethnic minorities and women in tech communities already in progress.

Becoming a platform for change

We build EDI into every element of our colleague and stakeholder lifecycle. We actively seek feedback and identify areas for improvement, such as recruitment training and increased collaboration with the 10,000 Interns Foundation, allowing us new avenues to enhance our strategies.

Our culture underpins the work and purpose of our roles. At the core of what we deliver, inclusivity starts with accessibility. We continue to make our services accessible to everyone, ensuring that no one is disadvantaged due to disabilities. Working directly with universities and colleges, our core services aim to ensure fairness in the admissions process.

Maximising resources to do good

Our goal is to achieve a truly diverse organisation that becomes a representation of those we support and guide to discover their future. We leverage our position, working in partnership with charities and other sector organisations. We create practical and inspiring information, with advice and resources for under-represented groups. Additionally, we produce reports to inform public debate that focuses on widening access and participation.

So far in 2023, we have been able to encourage over 74,000 UK 18-year-olds to share their individual circumstances — such as care responsibilities, declaring themselves a refugee or asylum seeker, being a parent or estranged from their own parents. By using our platform for change, this information helps to inform how higher education can take action to become more inclusive by widening participation that will impact the future workplace. By fostering inclusivity and belonging, UCAS has a direct impact across the UK.

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