Aurora Universities Network

Launched in October 2016, the Aurora Universities Network is a group of nine European institutes working together to build inclusive university communities and tackling complex, societal challenges around the world

Global leaders in academic research, network partners support each other to pursue a shared mission of strengthening academic, cultural and social ties by focusing on six core themes:

Working groups bring together staff and students to discuss each theme and identify how the network can add real value to society by embracing diversity and inclusion, promoting environmental sustainability, supporting student initiatives, advancing teaching innovation and impacting society through research.


Operating sustainable universities is a key focus of the Aurora network. A collective strategy has been developed to encourage and promote good practice within each institution, whilst also creating benchmarks for monitoring progress.

Within the University of Aberdeen, Professor David Lusseau holds responsibility for the Sustainability theme. Most recently, Professor Lusseau collaborated with the Communications team to develop a social media campaign which promoted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Global Action Day. The campaign showcased the University’s great work around sustainability and the ways in which we have achieved each goal.

The output of each Aurora partner can also be analysed in a bibliometric tool which demonstrates how the network is contributing towards the 17 SDGs.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

1. No Poverty

1. No PovertyWe believe people from all backgrounds are entitled to a university education. We support learners at every stage of their journey through our widening access initiatives.

2. Zero Hunger

2. Zero HungerOur researchers are currently working on a study to help launch a resilient food supply chain in Malawi, delivering essential nutrients across the population.

3. Good health and Wellbeing

Good Health and Wellbeing logoOur staff, students and local community have access to world-class exercise facilities and an Olympic standard swimming pool at the Aberdeen Sports Village.

4. Quality Education

Quality EducationOur DLITE initiative helps people achieve their aspirations of becoming teachers via flexible learning while working full time. Read Julie’s story here.

5. Gender Equality

Gender EqualityThe University holds 14 Athena Swan awards, a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to the advancement and promotion of women in STEMM & beyond. 

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

Clean Water and Sanitation logoOur academic Euan Phimster is leading the IPORE project, which aims to improve the sustainability of food and water in Southern Ethiopia.

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

Affordable and Clean EnergyOur students have received funding for a two-year sustainable project from the Climate Change fund. Through student led initiatives the AberGreen team aim to reduce carbon, embed a sustainable legacy, and improve climate literacy.

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

Decent work and Economic Growth logoWe’ve been a fairtrade university for more than a decade. Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries.

9.  Industry, Innovation and infrastructure

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure logoOur academic Dr Lorna Phillip took her research on broadband in rural communities to the Scottish Parliament in June. Find out more about her research here.

10. Reduced Inequalities

Reduced Inequalities logoEvery year the University supports young people with additional needs through Project SEARCH. The one year programme aims to increase the number of people with learning disabilities securing employment.

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesUoA is a partner in the Civitas Portis project, an EU funded scheme that promotes various initiatives that support walking, cycling and sustainable urban transport in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Responsible Consumption and ProductionSince 2008, the University has been working with Scottish charity, Reusing IT, to give our old computers a new home in education projects in the developing world. 

13. Climate Action

Climate Action logoWe’ve reduced our CO2e emissions from energy use by almost 20% in the past two years.

14. Life Below Water

Life Below Water logoThe University’s International Centre for Aquaculture Research and Development (ICARD) aims to consolidate and strengthen all aquaculture related research and help develop a sustainable aquaculture industry worldwide.

15. Life on Land

Life on Land logoAberdeen academic Pete Smith was awarded £2million to lead a study into the use of soil in combatting global warming.

16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institution

The Aberdeen Law Project is a stPeace, Justice and Stron Institutionsudent led law clinic and community outreach initiative helping those who struggle to access professional legal support

17. Partnerships for the Goals

Partnerships for the GoalsThe UoA is a proud member of the Aurora Network, which is also committed to the UN SDGs as well as working together with other European universities to build inclusive university communities.

Inclusive Internationalisation

Whilst the Aurora network is committed to exploring the mobility opportunities that arise from being part of an international collective, it is also mindful of the challenges that many students may face when studying or working abroad.

At the University of Aberdeen, Louisa Stratton coordinates our Erasmus programme which enables students and staff to study and work in other countries throughout Europe, including many Aurora partner institutions.

An important part of Louisa’s role is understanding the barriers faced by students when moving abroad for a period of time, especially for young people who may face more challenges than others. Louisa is working closely with the Universities of Antwerp, Duisburg-Essen, East Anglia, Gothenburg and Amsterdam to widen and improve access for all of our students from a range of backgrounds.

All students can apply for Erasmus and we strongly encourage studying abroad, which strengthens links with our partner institutions and offers a fantastic opportunity to experience an exciting new culture. Visit our Erasmus page for more information.

Diversity & Inclusion

Launched in 2017, the Aurora Diversity and Equality Award highlights innovative inclusion projects within each partner institution. The aim of the award is to identify impactful, creative projects that demonstrate good practice and play an important role in advancing the network’s vision of equality and diversity for all students and staff.

Our Equality and Diversity Adviser, Janine Chalmers, coordinates the University of Aberdeen’s submissions for the award. This year, our submissions were titled Gateway to Medicine (G2M) – Widening access to Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid Training.

A joint venture between the University, NESCOL and NHS Grampian, the Gateway to Medicine programme aims to widen access for students from all backgrounds, in particular those underrepresented in remote and rural locations. Our Mental Health First Aid project has also been a great success in creating a culture that encourages discussion around mental health and provides the best possible support to those who need it.