The University of Aberdeen aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment.  In 1495 we were founded on the principle of being open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the services of others. We still have that purpose and continuously work towards a more inclusive community. This page provides students with resources and contacts on equality, diversity and inclusion.

Equality and Diversity

Inclusiveness is a central pillar of our Aberdeen 2040 strategy. The University of Aberdeen has a zero tolerance approach to any form of discrimination or harassment and I would urge anyone who experiences this to contact our student support service or HR team.

For further information and support relating to Equality,  Diversity and Inclusion related matters, students can contact The Student Liberation Forums.

University Gender Action Plan

Setting out the University of Aberdeen’s commitment to the principles of equality and diversity, the Gender Action Plan (GAP) demonstrates the University’s pledge to fulfilling the requirements set by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in demonstrating the University’s ambitions in embedding gender equality and tackling gender imbalance through policy and practice. Actions are focused across the University as a whole, as well as early years education and supporting graduates. Whilst the plan is applicable to all, there is a specific subject focus on Psychology, Education, Physics and Computer Science. These four subjects were identified and selected as they are dominated by more than 75% of one gender in each subject. It is one of the aims set by the Scottish Funding Council to reduce the gender split in individual subjects, as well as overall, by 2030. The SFC have stated that their goal is that by 2030 47.5 % of all undergraduate students will be male. The University is committed to decrease the disparity by 1 % each year in the prioritised subjects and work towards achieving more of a gender balance across the whole student population.

Diverse Campus

The University also strives towards a safer and more diverse campus, allowing staff and students to focus on their work and studies rather than worry about harassment or oppression, creating a safe space to flourish and grow as a person while at University. To accomplish this it requires that students and staff members show each other respect. To show respect is to show acceptance towards others in the way you talk, act and behave. It also means that one does not judge or assume things about others. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Speak up when somebody says offensive things or discriminates against others. Treat others on an equal basis, and ensure equality.

To get you off to a good start, here are a few recommendations to help you when engaging with others during lectures, seminars and social events:

  • Listen without interruption
  • Accept differences in opinion unless racist, sexist etc
  • Don’t show prejudice towards or refuse to accept certain people because of their race gender, sexuality or disability
  • Accept that you may not be perfect, and to listen when called out
  • Stand up and speak out for people if you have privilege(s) they don’t have
  • Always ask for and receive consent
  • Don’t assume that everyone is the same as you

And when you meet new people:

  • Ask questions about them to avoid any assumptions, but be aware that some students may not wish to disclose information relating to equality groups
  • Use gender neutral pronouns until you know what a person’s pronoun is. For instance, you might assume a person is a woman, but when you ask for their pronoun it’s “they”, and you learn they’re non-binary
  • Ask questions about the things and identities people find important about themselves. It could be that they come from Norway, but have one parent from Thailand, that they’re gay, and that they love football
  • Use the pronoun and sexuality terminology someone provides you with. Be aware that it might also change over time
  • Acknowledge the differences in levels of bias and assumptions different people face
  • Assumptions and stereotypes are harmful, and are rarely true
Equality and Diversity

Gender equality and diversity is about trying to even the playing field and ensuring that all students have the opportunity to reach their goals at university. People can’t control if they’re male, female, transgender, gay, straight or bi and these factors should not limit the success of any person. To study and work at the University is to lay a foundation that enables students to excel in their studies and career. It requires a safe environment for everybody. Harassment, discrimination and bias doesn’t have a place on campus.
Most people aren’t biased or discriminatory on purpose. It’s easy to assume that others are just like yourself, and that people will have the same experience and opinions as you. You may not know the gender of your fellow students, or whether they identify with any of the other equality groups so it’s important you behave and engage in a way that respects everyone. You can personally help to make the University an equal, diverse and safe place for everybody.

The University aims to limit the effect inequality has on education and its student and staff members. It is important that no one is treated less well because of who they are. Unconscious bias (where our unconscious mind makes automatic and quick judgements) and stereotyping can unfortunately add to inequality and there are certain groups affected more by this, including women, LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, and people with disabilities. Some people are a part of more than one of these groups and can at times face different forms of discrimination than the others, or it can be layered. Keeping this in mind is referred to as intersectionality – something staff and students should be aware of.

Every person should make sure to limit their judgement and bias against those who are different from themselves. If you would like to discover more about your unconscious bias then you can visit Harvard’s Project Implicit.

Language and Definitions

Our campus is an exciting and diverse place, and for many opens the doors to lots of new experiences. Getting to grips with some of the terminology may help you navigate your way around and help when meeting new people.

Gender:

  • Cisgender: Same gender as assigned at birth
  • Transgender: Used to describe someone who is assigned female/male at birth but identifies and lives as a man/woman
  • Trans: Umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. A person is just as much of a man or woman no matter if you’re transgender or not
  • Gender: Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth
  • Non-binary: Umbrella term for a person who does not identify as only male or only female, or who may identify as both
    • Androgynous: One is both masculine and feminine
    • Bigender/pangender: One is multiple genders, such as male and female.
    • Agender: One has no gender or is neutral about it
    • Genderfluid: One’s gender changes back and forth over time. One can be female one day/week/month, and agender another
    • Intergender: One’s gender is somewhere between male and female
  • Transphobia: The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including denial or refusal to accept their gender identity

Sexual Orientation:

  • Heterosexual: Refers to a man/ women who has an emotional, romantic and/ or sexual orientation towards women/man
  • Homosexual: An emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used
  • Bisexual: Umbrella term used to describe an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender
  • Pansexual: When emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction is not limited by sex or gender
  • Queer: A slur against gay people that have been reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community
  • Demisexual: One needs a strong emotional bond to be sexually attracted to someone
  • Asexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction
  • Allosexual: One feels sexual attraction to people
  • LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning
  • Homo-/Bi-/Pan-/Queer-/ etc. phobia: The fear or dislike of someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ-phobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, LGBTQ+

Disability:

  • Person with disability: May be restricted in various regards due to a physical and/or mental condition. Examples are paralysis and depression. Many disabilities do not pose significant difficulties for individual
  • Non-disabled : A person without legally defined disabilities
  • Visible disability: The disability is visible to most people Paralysis and Down syndrome are two examples
  • Invisible/hidden disability: The disability is not visible, someone who encounters a person with this kind of disability can be completely unaware that the person has a disability. Two examples are depression and chronic illnesses.

For more information and definitions visit:

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/helpadvice/glossaryterms

Reporting Harassment

There is support available to you if you experience or witness harassment on or around campus. You can report harassment anonymously through our Reporting Tool.  

You can also speak confidentially with a Support Adviser at the Student Advise & Support Office, a Counsellor from our Counselling Service or a Chaplain at the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy.

Student Support Services

If you would like to speak to someone confidentially about anything, our Student Support Services are available. Student Support Advisers at the Student Advice & Support Office can offer practical support and signpost you to relevant outside organisations that can offer you support.

Our Multifaith Chaplains are available if you would like to speak confidentially with someone. If you feel that you would benefit from counselling, our Counselling Service is available as well.

Support for LGBTQI+ Students

Pride

Grampian Pride is the annual LGBTQ+ Pride festival in Aberdeen. This festival is an opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas to come together, provide a safe space and celebrate. The festival has grown year on year and consists of a march, various stalls, information about LGBT+ organisations and services, entertainment, key speakers, safe spaces, and a family area.

During 2020 Pride month, while under lockdown, our alumni, staff and students came together to "Share the Pride". Watch this video to see how we celebrated... 

 

Changing your Gender Marker or Name

You can change your gender marker or first name by visiting the Infohub and talking to a member of the team. You don’t need to provide any proof to do this.   

Gender Neutral Toilets

We have a growing number of gender neutral toilets available across Old Aberdeen campus including at the Sir Duncan Rice Library and William Guild Building. We now have around 100 gender neutral toilets on campus and we are working to add more all the time.  

Here is what our Principal, George Boyne, has said regarding gender neutral toilets during the 2019/20 Open Ask Session:

‘Last year following an exercise where we surveyed the entire WC provision across our campuses Estates & Facilities identified 116 toilets, (12%) of our total provision, that could fulfil Aberdeen City Council Building Control’s interpretation of the Building Standards Scotland of a unisex/gender neutral toilet. This was discussed with AUSA and reported to the Student Experience Committee where it was agreed that Estates & Facilities would progress the re-designation of these toilets. Further survey work on the replacement of signage is nearly complete and we expect to start the changes early in the New Year.’

Student Channel

Hear from current students, alumni and staff through blogs, vlogs and podcasts on the Student Channel. Below are some examples of blogs that have recently been published.

National Coming Out Day: Pros and Cons

What is Intersectionality?

Are you interested in becoming a Student Content Creator for the Student Channel? All current students are welcome to join, simply fill out this form to request further information. 

AUSA Forums and Societies 

LGBTQ Plus Students Forum

Trans Students Forum

Women and Non- Binary Students Forum

Support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Students

Black History Month UK 2020

October marks the start of Black History Month in the UK, a time to celebrate the extraordinary contributions that black people have made in the UK and beyond. Black History Month was initiated by historian Cater G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African Life and History (ASALH) in 1926 in the US to promote the study of Black history and acknowledge achievements of black people. It is now observed across the world and continues to inspire new generations of people. 

This year the University developed a programme of events, blogs, podcasts and talks which provide opportunities for our community to engage with the objectives of this celebration – to dig deeper, look closer, think bigger.

Student Channel

Hear from current students, alumni and staff through blogs, vlogs and podcasts on the Student Channel. The blogs and podcast below were created in celebration of Black History Month UK 2020.

Black Mental Health (podcast)

Promoting Solidarity Within our Diverse Communities

History as 'Meanwhile'

An Introduction to Black History Month

Exploring the University's Historic Links to Slavery

Are you interested in becoming a Student Content Creator for the Student Channel? All current students are welcome to join, simply fill out this form to request further information. 

AUSA Forums & Societies 

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student Forum

Support for Disabled Students

Disability Support Services

The Disability Service provides advice, information and practical study-related support to prospective and current students who have sensory and physical impairments, mental health conditions, long-term health conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Dyslexia and other specific learning differences (SpLD) and students who have an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). They are available to assist undergraduate, postgraduate, full time, part time and online distance learners.

The Assistive Technology Service supports students and staff with a disability, specific learning difference, mental health or any other medical issue through the use of technology. We help people find the right tools to develop complimentary strategies in order to become confident in their studies, research or role and to develop lifelong skills that enable them to achieve their potential in their time here at the university, and in their future endeavours. 

Student Channel 

Hear from current students, alumni and staff through blogs, vlogs and podcasts on the Student Channel. Below are some examples of blogs that have recently been published.

How to Respond when a Friend come to You with a Mental Health Problem

Covid-19 and Losing my Mind

Are you interested in becoming a Student Content Creator for the Student Channel? All current students are welcome to join, simply fill out this form to request further information. 

AUSA Forums & Societies 

Disabled Students Forum

AUSA Forums

AUSA has 5 liberation forums and 4 section forums as part of its structure, which exist to promote the interests of, and organise events for students who are part of certain groups:

The 5 liberation forums are:

The 4 section forums are:

You can search all of the AUSA forums and societies here.

Charities and Organisations

LGBT Foundation, formerly known as The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF), is a national charity delivering a wide range of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities.

LGBT Youth is "Scotland’s national charity for LGBTI young people, working with 13–25 year olds across the country. We also deliver the LGBT Charter programme to schools, organisations and businesses.

Our goal is to make Scotland the best place to grow up for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people. We play a leading role in the provision of quality youth work to LGBTI young people that promotes their health and wellbeing, and are a valued and influential partner in LGBTI equality and human rights."

LGBT Health and Wellbeing (LGBT Healthy Living Centre) was set up in 2003 to promote the health, wellbeing and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland. It provides support, services and information to improve health and wellbeing, reduce social isolation and stimulate community development and volunteering.

Stonewall Scotland

“We're here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they're not alone.

We believe we're stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. We have laid deep foundations across Britain - in some of our greatest institutions - so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves.

But our work is not finished yet. Not until everyone feels free to be who they are, wherever they are.”

Aberdeen also puts on Pride in the summers, find out more at Grampian Pride.