Making Older People Equal: Reforming the Law on Access to Education and Other Services

Brice Dickson, Lisa Glennon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Age-based discrimination in the supply of goods and services (including educational services) has only very recently been outlawed in the United Kingdom by the Equality Act 2010, the relevant sections of which have not yet been brought into force. This paper critically considers the Act and its implications, as well as the current proposal for an EU Directive on Goods and Services.The greatest immediate potential of the Equality Act lies in the general prohibition against age discrimination and the scope of the exceptions to it. The paper argues that exceptions permitting service providers to discriminate against older people (i.e. negative exceptions) should be very specifically set out in the reforming legislation.There should be no general defence to a claim of age discrimination based around the concept of ‘reasonableness’, which would not be consistently interpreted by courts and tribunals in a way that steers clear of traditional ageist assumptions and stereotyping.The paper argues that service providers should be permitted to discriminate in favour of older people (i.e. make positive exceptions) if the reason for doing do so satisfi es legislative criteria which are designed, amongst other things, to meet the particular needs of older persons or to promote social inclusion. Under this proposal, preferential treatment such as age-related concessionary fees for adult education courses and programmes would be lawful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Education and Ageing
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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