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Charters, pledges and commitments in the HE sector

We have collated a list of charters, pledges, kitemarks and commitments that universities and other higher education institutions can and do sign up to.

Read our blog article which sets out why we have collated this list and what we think this list tells us, as a sector.

Inclusion in the list below does not constitute a recommendation from us that universities sign up to these commitments.  Indeed, we have some concerns about the costs and risks associated with some of these schemes and the amount of work often required from signatory institutions. See additional notes on this list.

We will update this list as we are informed of changes or identify additions.

Spotted any information in the table below that needs to be updated? Are there any other charters, pledges, kitemarks or commitments you feel we should include? Use the form to let us know.

With thanks to Jennifer Gibbard for supporting our collation of this list of charters and pledges. 

Title
Summary
Sector specificity
Is there a direct cost (a financial payment) to join?
Does it relate primarily to support for students?
Does it relate primarily to support for staff?
Does it relate primarily to research?
Does it relate primarily to academic standards?
Academic Integrity Charter for UK Higher Education
An institutional pledge to implement principles and commitments to protect and promote academic integrity and take action against academic misconduct including working with staff and students and in collaboration across the sector.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
YES
AccessAble (formerly DisabledGo)
An organisation which sends trained surveyors to visit venues and spaces in person to assess them from an accessibility perspective and shares detailed accessibility information to help those who interact with those organisations and spaces to understand a venue's access.
Open to All Sectors
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Armed Forces Covenant
A pledge that an organisation acknowledges and understands that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
Athena SWAN
A charter promoting gender equality in academia and research including initiatives to address gender pay gaps, increase representation of women in leadership roles and support work-life balance. Encourages institutions to foster inclusive and supportive environments.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Carbon Literate Educator
An organisational accreditation standard by the Carbon Literacy Project that allows an educator to demonstrate a substantial understanding of, commitment to and experience with ‘Carbon Literacy’, and progress towards a low-carbon culture, resulting in the decarbonisation of estates, systems and processes, whilst systemically embedding climate education and action.
Open to All Sectors
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Care Leavers Covenant
A covenant aimed at improving outcomes for care leavers by providing support and opportunities in education, employment, housing and healthcare. Organisations commit to tailored support and removing barriers to success.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
Civic University Agreements (CUAs)
Agreements between universities and local communities to address societal challenges and contribute to regional development. Encourages collaboration, knowledge exchange and civic engagement to promote social impact and sustainability.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO
Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research
A commitment to involve the public in research activities and decision-making processes, promoting transparency, accountability and public trust in research. Organisations pledge to communicate research findings effectively and engage diverse stakeholders.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO
Concordat on openness on animal research in the UK
A charter promoting transparency and openness in animal research practices including commitments to ethical treatment, responsible use of animals and sharing of research methodologies and outcomes. Aimed at fostering public trust and understanding.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
NO
NO
YES
NO
Concordat to Support Research Integrity
A charter focused on fostering integrity and good conduct in research, including principles of honesty, accountability and respect for research participants and data. Requires institutions to promote a culture of research integrity and address misconduct effectively.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
YES
Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers
A charter aimed at supporting the career development and wellbeing of researchers including commitments to training, mentoring and professional development opportunities. Organisations promote inclusive and supportive environments for researchers at all career stages.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO
Customer First
A national standard for customer service, focusing on building outstanding customer service cultures and delivery methods by looking at customers interface with and experience the organisation.
Open to All Sectors
YES
NO
NO
NO
NO
Customer Service Excellence (CSE)
A set of criteria for organisations to be assessed against in order to achieve a quality mark evidencing their commitment to delivering high quality services to their users with a focus on their individual needs and preferences.
Open to All Sectors
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Digital Participation Charter (Scotland)
A charter promoting digital inclusion and participation in Scotland including initiatives to bridge the digital divide, improve digital skills and ensure equitable access to digital technologies and services. Encourages collaboration across sectors to empower communities.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
Disability Confident
A charter promoting the recruitment, retention and support of employees with disabilities including initiatives to remove barriers to employment, provide reasonable accommodations and foster inclusive workplace cultures. Organisations commit to Disability Confident practices.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Disability Employment Charter
A charter dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities including commitments to accessible recruitment processes, reasonable adjustments and ongoing support in the workplace. Organisations pledge to promote disability inclusion and diversity.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Disabled Student Commitment
A commitment to support disabled students in education and employment including provisions for accessible learning environments, accommodations and inclusive policies and practices. oOganisations aim to empower disabled students to achieve their full potential.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
Diversity Mark
An accreditation that allows an organisation to demonstrate to employees and suppliers a commitment to create an inclusive and diverse workplace.
Open to All Sectors
YES
NO
NO
NO
NO
EcoCampus
An accreditation scheme that recognises successful phased implementation of an environmental management system for the higher and further education sector, towards an award that conforms with the requirements of the ISO 14001 international environmental management standard.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
NO
NO
NO
NO
Emily Test Gender-Based Violence Charter for Colleges and Universities
A charter committed to preventing and addressing gender-based violence in colleges and universities. Organisations pledge to raise awareness, provide support services and implement policies and procedures to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
YES
NO
NO
NO
Engage Watermark (National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement)
A charter mark for universities, recognising outstanding strategic support for, and commitment to improving, public engagement.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
NO
NO
NO
NO
Fair Chance Pledge
A pledge to provide fair opportunities for individuals with criminal records including initiatives to eliminate discrimination and offer second chances through inclusive hiring practices and support programs. Organisations commit to promoting fair chance employment.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
GTRSB into HE Pledge
A pledge to improve representation for people from Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman and Boater backgrounds. Organisations commit to undertake steps to support GTRSB students into and within higher education.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
Gambling Charter
A charter dedicated to promoting responsible gambling practices including initiatives to prevent problem gambling, protect vulnerable individuals and ensure fairness and transparency in gaming and betting activities. Organisations commit to responsible gambling policies.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Good Business Charter (GBC)
A charter promoting ethical business practices including commitments to fair wages, employee rights, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Organisations pledge to uphold high standards of business conduct and accountability.
Open to All Sectors
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Green Chemistry Commitment
A commitment to promoting environmentally sustainable practices and reducing the environmental impact of chemical processes and products. Organisations pledge to prioritise green chemistry principles including waste reduction, renewable resources and safer chemical alternatives.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO
Knowledge Exchange Concordat
A charter promoting effective knowledge exchange between universities and external partners including industry, government and community organisations. Encourages collaboration, innovation and mutual benefit through transparent and equitable partnerships.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO
Menopause Friendly Employer
A commitment to supporting menopause in the workplace, creating an environment where menopause can be talked about easily, and having the right support in place for colleagues.
Open to All Sectors
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Menopause Workplace Pledge
A pledge to support employees experiencing menopause by raising awareness, providing education and implementing supportive policies and practices in the workplace. Organisations commit to creating inclusive and respectful environments for menopausal individuals.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
YES
NO
Mindful Employer
A charter promoting mental health awareness and support in the workplace including initiatives to reduce stigma, provide resources and training and foster inclusive and supportive environments for employees with mental health conditions.
Open to All Sectors
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Nature Positive Universities Pledge
A commitment to start a nature positive journey, incorporating a biodiversity baseline, targets, actions and annual reporting – with a focus on restoring species and ecosystems that have been harmed by the impacts of a university and its activities.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
People & Planet's Fossil Free Declaration
A declaration from universities affirming their current fossil free status, as well as their commitment to remaining so in the future.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
Pledge Promising Not to Use NDAs in Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Misconduct, Bullying, and Other Forms of Harassment
A pledge to ensure transparency and accountability in addressing complaints of sexual misconduct, bullying and harassment by refraining from using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence victims or conceal wrongdoing. Organisations commit to fostering safe and supportive environments.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
RE:SET Universities (Tender)
Supports universities and student unions to review their current performance in the prevention of domestic abuse and sexual violence and embed effective sustainable prevention in their campus culture; empowering, supporting and educating their staff and students.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Race Equality Charter
A charter committed to advancing racial equality and diversity in higher education institutions including initiatives to address racial disparities, promote inclusivity and eliminate racial discrimination and harassment. Organisations must be members of AdvanceHE to apply.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Race at Work Charter
A charter promoting racial equality in the workplace including initiatives to address racial disparities, foster inclusive cultures and improve representation, progression and success for ethnic minority employees. Organisations commit to driving positive change and accountability.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Race to Zero
A global campaign mobilising cities, regions, businesses and investors to take action to reach net-zero by 2050. Organisations commit to setting ambitious emissions reduction targets, implementing sustainable practices and advocating for climate action.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
Social Mobility Pledge
A pledge to promote social mobility and improve access to opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds. Organisations commit to providing fair access to employment, education and training opportunities and supporting social mobility initiatives.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
Stand Alone Legacy Pledge
The Stand Alone Pledge ran from October 2016 to March 2024. In March 2024 organisations reaffirmed their commitment to support estranged students through a Stand Alone Legacy Pledge. Organisations who signed the pledge committed to supporting estranged students studying without the support or approval of a family network.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
Stonewall Diversity Champion
A charter promoting a specific approach to ‘LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality’ in the workplace, including initiatives to amend policies, practices and environments for LGBTQ+ employees.
Open to All Sectors
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Tech Talent Charter
A charter committed to promoting inclusive recruitment, retention and progression practices in technology roles. Organisations pledge to create diverse and inclusive tech teams and foster a culture of equality and belonging.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Technician Commitment
A charter aimed at supporting and promoting the role of technicians in higher education and research institutions. Organisations commit to investing in technician skills, career development and recognition to enhance the contribution of technicians.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Time to Change Employer Pledge
Ended in March 2021. A pledge to promote mental health awareness and combat stigma in the workplace. Organisations commit to creating supportive environments, providing mental health training and implementing policies and practices to prioritise employee wellbeing.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
UK Agent Quality Framework Pledge
A pledge for demonstrating commitment to enhancing governance and ethical practices for those working in attracting and supporting international students wishing to study in the UK, through adoption of a framework designed to enhance partnership between institutions in the higher education sector.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
UK Medical Schools Charter on So-Called LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy
A charter committed to opposing so-called LGBTQ+ ‘conversion therapy’ and promoting LGBTQ+-inclusive practices and policies in medical education and healthcare settings. Medical schools pledge to uphold LGBTQ+ rights and dignity.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
YES
NO
NO
University Mental Health Charter
A charter aimed at promoting a whole-university approach to mental health and wellbeing. Universities commit to providing comprehensive mental health support services, fostering supportive environments and promoting mental health awareness and education.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
YES
NO
NO
NO
University Recovery Friendly Pledge
A pledge to support students in recovery. Organisations commit to valuing the contribution that they have made, and continue to make, to university life.
UK Higher Education Sector
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
University of Sanctuary
A charter recognising universities and colleges that offer welcome and support to refugees and asylum seekers including scholarships, access to education and resources and initiatives to promote inclusion and integration. Institutions commit to creating sanctuary spaces and communities.
UK Higher Education Sector
YES
YES
YES
NO
NO
Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter
A charter to demonstrate commitment to support the progression of women into senior roles in the aviation and aerospace sectors by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level, including commitments on target setting and public reporting.
Open to All Sectors
NO
YES
NO
NO
NO
Working Families Benchmark
A tool that helps organisations to evaluate their policies, practices and culture in relation to family-friendly working.
Open to All Sectors
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
AdditionalInfo

This list has been compiled with reference to information readily available on the websites associated with each scheme and should be considered a snapshot of the various schemes to which universities have signed up, rather than an authoritative guide.

 

Always check with the organisations managing each scheme for up-to-date information about their scope and eligibility criteria. 

 

To suggest any additions or updates to the list, contact us using the form at the top of this page.

If you found this list helpful, feel free to subscribe to our occasional updates for details of our other resources, events and services from our team:

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