Equity, diversity and inclusion

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Equity is a fundamental element of the UNSW vision and is a guiding principle in the University’s strategic intent. The maintenance of an equitable and inclusive campus and workplace is fundamental to UNSW’s mission to become one of the world’s top 50 universities and an international exemplar in equity, diversity and inclusion.

As part of UNSW’s commitment to Social Engagement, which has ‘A Just Society’ as a central theme, a wide range of initiatives have been developed to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion both at a campus and faculty level. Thus far the following actions have completed. 

  • UNSW Council has approved targets for 2025: 50% females at Academic Levels D/E and 50% females at HEW10/10+ (Academic levels D = Associate Professor / E = Professor, HEW= High Education Worker)
  • Diversity Champions representing staff and students have been appointed. One each for Culture, Gender, Disability, Flexibility and Leave Options, and LGBTQI. 
  • An Equity Diversity and Inclusion Board has been established. Membership includes the Diversity Champions and Faculty Deans).

Strategy 2025

The following high level initiatives are now underway as part of Strategy 2025.

Staff Equity Program

The Staff Equity Program is designed to address differences in employment rates based on gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, cultural background and Indigenous origin to ensure that such factors do not influence recruitment, hiring, promotion, pay level or retention. The Staff Equity Program aims to facilitate equity in employment across UNSW, and covers all diversity groups and incorporates national and international benchmarking. Evidence-based plans and actions are being developed for specific diversity groups and will support the ability of both the University and its faculties and divisions to meet specified targets.

Student Equity Program

The Student Equity Program is being designed to deliver a systematic approach to the recruitment and support of students of high potential from diverse backgrounds. Given the limitations of relying solely on high school grades – entry criteria and processes will be a focus of review and reform. In addition, UNSW’s Scholarship Program will include more ‘equity-based’ scholarships to support students from disadvantaged and under-represented groups and the number of scholarships for Indigenous and low socioeconomic status students will be increased. Support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be ongoing throughout their studies including a University-wide mentoring program.

Disability Inclusion Action Plan

UNSW’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan has been developed with a focus on making the learning and teaching experience welcoming and inclusive, and the University’s built and digital environments accessible to all staff and students with a disability. Using the principles of Universal Design, the measures will ensure the needs of students with disability are factored into curriculum development, design and delivery. ‘Best practice’ in building accessibility across our physical campuses and residential communities will ensure the needs of staff, students and visitors with a disability are met.

Indigenous Program

The Indigenous Program is being designed to acknowledge, respect and celebrate the important place of Indigenous Australians at UNSW. Respecting and learning about Indigenous knowledge will be integral to the UNSW educational experience. All staff joining the University will undertake cultural awareness training as part of their induction to UNSW. We will implement a University-wide scheme focused on continuously improving Indigenous students’ access and degree completions and provide the opportunities for our Indigenous staff to build their careers. We will strengthen our commitment to Indigenous communities by expanding existing outreach programs and Winter School, and by new initiatives that partner UNSW with specific Indigenous communities.

Equity, diversity and inclusion champions

Five Diversity Champions were appointed from across the University in 2016. The Champions will help lead UNSW’s equity, diversity and inclusion agenda and be advocates internally and externally. These champions are working with representatives from diversity groups to drive the agenda for equity and inclusion across UNSW and will oversee progress against strategies at the University and faculty/divisional levels.

Workplace Diversity

UNSW’s diversity commitment aligns to our strong sense of social responsibility and our belief that a diverse employee workforce enhances our ability to deliver world class research, teaching excellence and thought leadership.

Workplace Diversity supports UNSW to embrace the diversity and cultural richness of our communities, by ensuring that all staff can achieve their full potential in a supportive and inclusive work environment. The unit works with the University’s internal and external stakeholders to develop initiatives that aim to improve UNSW’s cultural, disability, flexibility, gender, and LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer or questioning) diversity and inclusion.

UNSW also partners with Australia’s leading diversity organisations, networks and campaigns including:


UNSW is one of Australia’s most cosmopolitan universities. We are also Australia’s first international university, having enrolled significant numbers of international students since 1951, with more than 127 countries now represented.

In the reporting period, enrolments numbered 59,781:

  • 39,577 local students
  • 20,204 international students 
  • 4,183 higher degree research candidates

Excepting local students, the top 10 countries of origin for students were China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, USA, India, Vietnam and Thailand

UNSW Disability Services

UNSW Disability Services are available to help students with a disability, medical condition, learning disability or who are dealing with personal circumstances that are affecting their study. Disability Advisers can put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so student can complete their course requirements.