Is it that time of year again? Hello, Freshers’ Week!


University is often an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ individuals to embrace and explore their sexuality. New research shows that LGBTQIA+ students beginning university or college are, excitingly, increasingly viewing education as an opportunity to be open about their identity. Yay!

“Next Steps: What is the experience of LGBT+ students in education?”, published by UCAS in collaboration with Stonewall, analysed the LGBTQIA+ students off to university this autumn. According to its findings, which collated data from almost 3000 students via a survey, 1 in 13 identify as LGBTQIA+. With 61% reporting feeling comfortable being open about their identity at school, 82% have stated feeling even more confident about embracing and being open about their sexuality or gender at university.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, LGBTQIA+ students are more likely to choose creative courses than their straight, cis counterparts, who favour subjects relating to medicine, business and administrative studies. Further, LGBTQIA+ students are more likely to choose universities or colleges in urban areas, with institutions in the North-West and Scotland most favoured. That’s right, pet!

Critically, LGBTQIA+ students were more likely to declare a disability than non-LGBTQIA+ students, with the figures representing 30% and 12% respectively. Further, they were four times more likely to declare a mental health condition, at 13% versus 2.9%, with transgender students representing the most likely cohort to declare a disability out of LGBTQIA+ students at 47%.

Despite this, more than 1 in 10 reported that they are unsure how out they can live their new lives as freshers. Further, 12% of LGBTQIA+ students stated that they experienced negativity at school, with the figure rising to 17% for transgender students with bullying recognised as the primary reason.

Importantly, the report concludes that LGBTQIA+ students are more likely than their straight, cis counterparts to come from disadvantaged backgrounds. 17% of LGBTQIA+ applicants were from POLAR4 Q1 areas, compared to 13% of their non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts.

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant states: “UCAS is committed to ensuring that education is accessible to all, and I am encouraged that the majority of the 3000 LGBT+ students who responded to our survey are feeling positive about their next steps in education. Our report highlights that whilst significant progress has been made, there is still work to be done by all of us to create an educational environment where LGBT+ students can feel free to be themselves.”

Clearly, it’s not all rainbows, but these findings are something to remain optimistic about. Now, let’s work on improving LGBTQIA+ infrastructure at UK Universities and removing educational barriers, hey?  

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