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What EDI means at ECA

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) means promoting an inclusive, fair, respectful and welcoming culture in which all staff and students can flourish. 

Equality means that everyone should be able to develop to their full potential and should be treated no less favourably due to any personal characteristic such as gender, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, disability, gender confirmation, sexual orientation, religious or philosophical belief, age, socio-economic background, trade union membership, family circumstances or other distinction. 

It also means having systems in place to address and remove discrimination and maintain an ongoing commitment to tackle the legacy of institutional biases. Bullying, harassment or victimisation are also considered as equality and diversity issues. Diversity and inclusion mean recognising, respecting and valuing people’s differences to contribute and realise their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture for all staff and students.  

Athena Swan Silver Award

ECA achieved the Athena Swan Silver Award in 2023. This accomplishment reflects our determination to advance gender equality in academia. Learn more about the Athena Swan Charter here.

Student work on display in a painting studio

Your EDI representatives at ECA

The EDI Committee consists of academic representatives from each Subject Area, representatives from Professional Services, and UG and PGT student representation. Academic representatives include the Director of Quality, the Coordinator of Adjustments, and the Lauriston Campus Project Champion.

More information about your EDI representatives at ECA

The EDI Committee reports to ECA’s senior leadership team through the Planning and Resources Committee and to the CAHSS EDI Committee.

The EDI committee is comprised of representatives drawn from all areas of ECA:

  • Academic Subject Areas (Art, ESALA, Design, History of Art and the Reid School of Music)
  • Director of Faculty
  • Director of Students
  • Education Committee
  • Professional Services
  • Student Administration and Support Services
  • Students (UG, PGT, PGR)
  • Talbot Rice Gallery
  • Research, Knowledge Exchange and Impact office / committee
  • Working groups (e.g. Decolonising the Curriculum, Athena Swan, Widening Participation, Disability)

The ECA Joint Directors of EDI are Rosie Nicholas ( and Dr W. Victoria Lee (

Students working a studio

Introduction to ECA EDI Committee

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee is made up of staff and students from different areas of ECA, with an interest and expertise in these issues.

Its remit is grounded in the ideals of the Equality Act 2010 which recognises nine protected characteristics (age, disability, gender confirmation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation) but also recognizes the intersectional aspects of these characteristics alongside socio-economic background.

More information about the EDI Committee and Working Groups

The EDI Committee is committed to equality - equal opportunity and the same levels of support for all – and we also champion equity and the provision of varying levels of support depending upon need in order to achieve greater fairness of outcomes. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion recognises that the practice of inclusion is necessary to put the concept of diversity into action in a meaningful way.

The ECA EDI committee has evolved out of work focussed on gender equality that led to ECA gaining an Athena Swan Bronze Award in May 2017. We are now, however, committed to a wider remit of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The ECA Committee feeds into and reports to the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) EDI Committee, which in turn reports to the central University EDI Committee Within ECA, the EDI Committee also has two working groups: the Athena Swan Working Group and the Decolonising the Curriculum and Anti-Racism Working Group.

The EDI Committee will:

  • Promote a culture of dignity and respect.
  • Inform and support the implementation of the College vision on equality, diversity and inclusion and its related policies.
  • Work to stimulate and support staff and students to build good practice and innovation in all areas of equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the institution.
  • Promote teaching and research by staff and students on issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Identify, discuss, and advise on ECA policy with regard to ensuring equalities processes and considerations are embedded at all levels including the highest strategic planning and decision-making levels.
  • Oversee the working groups and support them to achieve their actions.
  • Produce and publish an annual action plan on the ECA EDI webpages.

The Decolonising the Curriculum (DtC) Working Group will:

  • Promote and support an anti-racist culture at ECA and work to decolonise the curriculum.
  • Work partnership with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students and staff to develop and take forward its action plan.
  • Be guided by the lived experiences of those who are impacted by racism but acknowledge that the responsibility for action lies with the institution.
  • Draw up an action plan which will be published on the EDI section of the handbook.
  • Feed into and draw on the Race Equality and Anti-racism sub-group of the University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

View the Decolonising the Curriculum Working Group's statement >

Please contact Dr Penny Travlou or Fionnuala Doran for further information regarding the Decolonising the Curriculum Working Group.

Performance Costume work on display in the Sculpture Court

Expectations of students and staff

The University is committed to providing an environment in which all members of the University community treat each other with dignity and respect.

The University has a strong and long-standing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and to promoting a positive culture which celebrates difference, challenges prejudice and ensures fairness. Our staff and students are our greatest assets and all members of the University community should expect to be able to excel, and to be respected and valued for their unique perspectives and contributions.

Integrity, collegiality and inclusivity are central to the University’s values. In accordance with these values, the University is committed to providing an environment in which all members of the University community treat each other with dignity and respect, and where bullying, harassment and discrimination are known to be unacceptable.

Our Dignity and Respect Policy
Three students working together around a desk, one of whom is smiling to the camera

Widening Participation and Inclusion

It is the diversity of our student and staff population that makes ECA a vibrant, stimulating and creative place to study and work but we recognise that not everyone has the same opportunities to flourish and succeed educationally.

More information about Widening Participation and Inclusion

Widening Participation (WP) aims to address these educational inequalities and patterns of under-representation in Higher Education (HE) and to provide support to overcome the barriers which can affect a person’s aspirations and trajectory in life. Widening Participation (WP) refers to people facing specific disadvantages and barriers and so sits within a wider aspiration to enhance inclusion.

ECA works with the University of Edinburgh Widening Participation team to support students while they are at school or in further education, during the application process and while they are a student with us, through a range of schemes. ECA works particularly closely with the ACES team (Access to Creative Education in Scotland) which is located at ECA and provides support to eligible students from S4 to S6 who attend a state school in the south east of Scotland and who are interested in studying a visual creative subject such as art, design or architecture at university.

To find out more about Widening Participation have a look at the Widening Participation at Edinburgh page of the University website and also the widening access webpage for undergraduate applicants.

EDI Events, Activities and Organisations

Staff and students are involved with many of the University EDI initiatives, but there are also events and activities organised within ECA.

Research groups

Logo for Cruising the Seventies, showing a figure with a pink badge

Queer history project

'Crusing the 70s' launched at ECA in 2016. Dr Glyn Davis led the three-year project which was awarded a budget of €1.19 million by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA).

The project involved research teams from Germany, Spain, Poland and the UK and aimed to unearth queer archival materials from the 1970s that are in danger of being lost, or that have been sidelined and asked what use and value these materials can have for contemporary LGBTQ people.

View the Cruising the 70s website
Two people working with electronics at a table

Women In Sound Women on Sound

Women In Sound Women on Sound (WISWOS) is an international hub of networks and individuals, including artists, researchers, technologists, musicians and archivists with an interest in sound, technology and education.

This network plays a pivotal role in supporting this interventionist activity. Their core aim is to interrupt the gender gap by highlighting the work of women who are writing, and creating in the sonic arts.

View the Women In Sound Women on Sound website
Three people sat on a bench, chairing an event. Two are holding microphones, with one person speaking into one.

The Diversity Network

The Diversity Network is a collaboration between Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, an initiative challenging the fashion industry’s dependence on unachievable and unhealthy body ideals.

It promotes ‘emotionally considerate’ design and practice through innovative educational methods and research.

Find out more about the Diversity Network

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Group of people walking down path surrounded by trees holding banners
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In June 2018, tens of thousands took to the streets of the UK’s capital cities to commemorate 100 years of some women gaining the right to vote. At the front of the Edinburgh procession were staff and students, marching behind a specially commissioned banner masterminded by then Textiles Programme Director Lindy Richardson. 

Lindy was one of 100 female artists asked to create a banner for the occasion. As well as the University community, Lindy worked with women prisoners from Cornton Vale in Stirling. During a series of workshops participants were asked to embroider their take on issues around equality and diversity. Lindy said: “British prisoners are still denied the right to vote. For me, this group of prisoners represent the disenfranchised women of the 21st century.” The work included a series of pennants for the ‘Edinburgh Seven’, the first group of matriculated undergraduate female students at any British university.

Find out more on Google Arts & Culture
Four pieces of photography work on display in a studio space
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CollectiveF8: The all-female photography team

In their second year of studying at ECA, eight female photography students bonded over their shared experience of being a female artist and formed CollectiveF8.

The students brought their individual perspectives and unique artistic talent to the table, and aimed to support each other as they discovered who they are as an artist at ECA. CollectiveF8 embodied the belief that the best way for all women to progress in society is by working together and celebrating their achievements. They aimed to tackle and raise awareness of social issues through the medium of photography.

CollectiveF8 on Instagram
Mural on the Usher Hall building showing a child holding a megaphone up and wearing a facemask that reads "Black Lives Matter" and t-shirt that reads Justice for Sheku Bayoh
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The Black Lives Matter Mural Trail

Outside multiple venues across Scotland in October 2020, the Black Lives Matter Mural Trail started popping up. The Trail, which was the brainchild of Wezi Mhura – a Creative Producer based in Edinburgh – showcased work created by artists from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, all showing support for Black Lives Matter. Work by Tayo Adekunle, who graduated from the Photography programme at ECA in 2020, was on display at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on High Street.

Find out more about the Black Lives Matter Mural Trail
16 days campaign logo
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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

genderED (the University of Edinburgh’s hub for gender and sexuality studies) in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Institute at the University of New South Wales and Ambedkhar University in Delhi runs the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Blogathon. It forms part of the #16DaysOfActivism global campaign against Gender-Based Violence.

Find out more about the 16 Days Blogathon
White writing saying "5 women 5 questions" on a blue background
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5 Women, 5 Questions: Celebrating Women's History Month

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2022, five women from across ECA and the University of Edinburgh Research Collections told us about their current research. This took the form of five-part a podcast series.

Listen to the series

Contact us

Rosie Nicholas and Dr W. Victoria Lee

ECA Directors for Equality Diversity and Inclusion