Choosing your university is a big decision. Not only do you want to attend one that provides the course that you want, and produces graduates that are desirable in the business world, there are a host of other factors which play a part. Location, the vibe of the city, cost, amenities: these are all important.
As an LGBT student. There will be one more, vital consideration: how friendly is the university, and the town in which it is situated, to LGBT individuals. In an ideal world, every university would be the same: open, progressive and supportive. Giant strides have been made in this sense, but there is still some way to go.
This guide is not intended as a criticism of any university that does not appear on this list, but is a nod to those universities which have gone above and beyond the norm when it comes to embracing LGBT students’ needs.
Cardiff University regularly features in Stonewall’s list of Top 100 organisations which show support to LGBT individuals, and is usually the top-ranking university. In fact, in 2016 the university was number 20 on this very list, and the institution was even awarded Stonewall’s coveted Diversity Champion prize.
One of the university’s most established group’s in this regard is the Enfys Network, which supports LGBT students and staff, running a fantastic number of events and support services which are available to Cardiff residents as well as university students, promoting a shared community.
Wales has its second entrant on this particular list with Swansea University also staking its claim as one of the most LBTY-friendly universities in the UK. The university has also been featured on Stonewall’s respected list, charting as high as number 36.
Swansea’s core initiative is the LGBT+ Allies Programme which is based around inclusion for all students on campus and in the greater community, and one of its most successful practices has been a newsletter which seeks to build an LGBT+ community within the university which has an active say (with the blessing of the university administration) on all aspects of student life that can make it s better place to be for LGBT individuals.
Our first entrant from England, Teeside has long been seen as a progressive institute of learning in terms of open LGBT practices. It has also been included on Stonewall’s Top 100 list.
LGBTees, the university’s flagship network is student-led and is refreshing in that it has sought to actively engage students who identify as straight in the greater conversation about sexuality and gender identity. “This ethos of inclusion has been successful in nurturing an open and accepting environment on campus, and is a credit to the university and the students who run it,” says Grant Entwhistle, a writer at OxEssays and StateofWriting.
University of Birmingham
Number 50 on Stonewall’s list, Birmingham is often mentioned when discussing universities which have been the most proactive in seeking to establish LGBT-friendly campus environments. Although this may have been born out of issues which existed not so long back, it is good to acknowledge that this was an institution which recognized it had a problem (and it was a problem that went beyond issues of sexuality), and sought to rectify it.
The LGBT monitoring scheme seeks to promote inclusion on campus and beyond, and even seeks to connect LGBT students with mentors working in different fields around the city. Local businesses have become involved with the initiative too, showing how well it has been received.
University of Essex
Another member of Stonewall’s Top 100 list, the Essex LGBT Alliance has established a network between the university and beyond, actively engaging local organizations and performing some sterling work in raising awareness and promoting inclusion. Support at the university extends way beyond the realms of students, and it has become a valuable programme for alumni as well as members of the local community alike,” says Melissa Hargreaves, an educator at Academized and PaperFellows.
University of Manchester
Manchester is a city that has long had a celebrated LGBT community, and has performed similarly to the University of Essex on Stonewall’s list. The University of Manchester has been particularly active in supporting staff through its ALLOUT organization, seeking to promote inclusion and LGBT-friendly practices on campus by first of all encouraging and supporting staff members who identify themselves as members of this community.
University of Glasgow
Up in Scotland, the University of Glasgow is performing admirable work in looking to support its LGBT staff and students, and the campus in recent times has been one that celebrates individuality and promotes inclusion. The university’s LGBT+ Network was established back in 2007 and continues to organise events and open discussions which not only support this community but engages the straight community to participate in and learn about LGBT celebratory events.