Ten higher education institutions have been named among the UK’s top 100 gay-friendly places to work.
The University of the West of England, at 11th place, is the sector’s highest-placed institution on this year’s annual Stonewall Top 100 Employers list, followed by Cardiff University at 24th.
The University of Manchester makes Stonewall’s top 100 for the first time, achieving joint 43rd place alongside the University of Sheffield.
Other higher education institutions appearing in the top 100 for the first time include St George’s, University of London (47th), Leeds Beckett University (51st), De Montfort University (75th), York St John University (78th) and the University of Birmingham (79th).
Somerset College, which offers degrees validated by Plymouth University and The Open University, is included at 98th place, which means that the number of higher education providers in the top 100 has doubled since last year.
Simon Feeke, director of Stonewall’s workplace programmes, welcomed the rise in higher education employers in this year’s list.
“People perform better when they can be themselves. It’s vital that lesbian, gay and bisexual staff and students are able to do just that, and achieve their full potential,” he said.
Stonewall’s top 100 was selected from 397 employers that submitted entries to the gay rights charity’s Workplace Equality Index 2015.
Employers were assessed on 10 areas of employment policy and practice. More than 50,000 staff, including 10,592 lesbian, gay and bisexual employees, completed a questionnaire on the gay-friendly policies within their workplace.
All the universities in this year’s top 100 are members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme. Overall, more than 50 UK universities are part of the scheme, which encourages good practice in providing a supportive environment for gay employees.
Last year, University College London, already a member of the UK scheme, became the first university to join the Global Diversity programme. The institution has drawn criticism for opening a campus in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, as are same-sex marriages, civil partnerships and even cohabitation. The country’s legal code stipulates prison terms of one to three years for sodomy between men.
But UCL’s associations for gay staff, the LGBT and Equality Group and Out@UCL, have defended its presence in the Gulf state. “We don’t want to engage only with the ‘easy’ countries and we, as a group, want to use our engagement to advance our rights and values,” a spokesman for both groups said.