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6 October 2016 - UCL achieves first Gold Athena SWAN award for excellence in gender equality

The MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL has achieved the university’s first departmental Athena SWAN Gold award for gender equality – one of only two awarded to UK universities in this round. Read more.

September 2016 - Diversity Calendar 2016-17

At UCL it has been agreed that student requests to be absent due to religious commitments should be dealt with sympathetically by departments. Students should not be registered as ‘absent’ without good cause’ if they are absent due to religious commitments, provided this has been discussed and agreed with their tutor.Read more.

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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Blog  

Nov30 2016

Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations) & Disability Equality Champion at UCL

I write this on the first days of UK Disability History Month (UKDHA) which has run since 2010, and this year’s theme is around language, the ways in which disabled people have been described through history, and the ways in which they have expressed themselves. The month will look at language in all media, including oral history, newspapers and literature. The language used to describe disability even as recently as in my own parents’ generation is often shocking to us now, and no doubt there will continue to be change, reflecting a greater understanding over time of the social model.

On 3 December we also mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The theme for 2016 is “Achieving 17 goals for the Future we want”. This may not be the catchiest rallying cry ever but the day provides a focus for a range of events all across the world. Last year the somewhat catchier hashtag for the event; #aday4all, became the most popular on the internet on that day, and gave easy access to the events and celebrations on the day, so do give it a try this year.

At UCL, the Deafness Cognition and Language Centre (DCAL) have recently launched a new online deaf awareness course. The centre brings together leading Deaf and hearing researchers in the fields of sign linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. These experts have developed a self-paced online course that explores deafness and hearing loss in its many forms:

It is intended that this course will help participants to understand the barriers faced by Deaf people and the importance of equal access.

We have also recently signed up to the Business Disability Forum with the aim of becoming a disability-smart organisation. I will be chairing a new group which will form the self-assessment team for the Disability Standard Charter as part of our membership of the Forum. The Standard is an online management tool to help UCL to measure and improve on performance for disabled staff and students. UCL will be assessed in a variety of areas including our commitment, reasonable adjustments, recruitment, suppliers, premises and communication. An action plan will be developed as part of the charter, which will help us to continue being a disability-smart organisation.

Rex Knight

Nov 09 2016

The Rev’d Charlotte Bradley, Chaplain and Interfaith Advisor to UCL, reflects on Interfaith Week (13-20 November 2016)

I had assumed until recently, when I was doing a quick bit of research, that Interfaith Week had a long and illustrious history. The second part of that is true, but Interfaith Week has actually only taken place since 2008, as a result of a report from the Department for Communities and Local Government which set out a strategy for encouraging the development of inter faith activity in England.

After another year of seemingly endless news headlines about violence carried out by organisations claiming to be motivated by religion, I don’t think there can be much doubt of the need for a week which aims to increase tolerance of and understanding about faith communities. For me, the benefits of Interfaith Week were writ large by the news in July that whilst saying Mass for a small congregation in a church in France, an elderly French priest was killed by two terrorists purporting to carry out his murder in the name of ‘religion’. The following week, Muslims attended Mass in churches across France and members of the local Jewish and Muslim community in Rouen attended the murdered priest’s funeral at the Cathedral, to pay their respects and to show that they wouldn’t allow their faith to be used to justify such appalling acts of violence. Those actions of community cohesion in the wake of violence symbolised the aims of Interfaith Week:

  • To strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels
  • To increase the awareness of different faith communities and celebrate the contribution their members make to their neighbourhoods and wider society
  • To increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs

At UCL we’ll be celebrating Interfaith Week with a series of events, including the launch of the Council of Christians & Jews Campus Leadership Programme, designed to engage students in interfaith dialogue and offer them mentoring and opportunities for study and travel; a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral (where UCL will be mentioned in the prayers during Choral Evensong) and a discussion between the Atheist, Humanist & Secularist Society and the Catholic Society on the existence of God. In addition to these main events, many of the UCLU faith societies will be inviting staff and students of all faiths and none to come and find out more about their beliefs and practices during one of their weekly meetings – for example to experience what happens during Buddhist meditation, or a lunchtime discussion group with the Jewish Society. Interfaith Week encourages us all to put aside prejudice and preconceptions, to reflect more deeply on our own beliefs, and to build understanding and friendship across religious and cultural divides.

For more information on Interfaith Week, contact the Chaplain & Interfaith Advisor to UCL:

A flyer of events taking place at UCL during Interfaith Week 2016, can be downloaded here.

May 17 2013

Sir Stephen Wall, UCL Chair of Council, reflects on International Day Against Homophobia:

'IDAHO , famous for potatoes'. That, until a year ago, was as much as I knew: a thirty old recollection of an American car number plate.

IDAHO, as in International Day against Homophobia, sprang off the internet into my consciousness a year ago: an international day, marked by as many of us as possible in as many countries as possible. And, of course, our minds turn to people such as Bisi Alimi and John Bosco Nyombi, from Nigeria and Uganda respectively, who have both spoken at U C L in the last year: refugees because of their sexuality, brothers of ours who cannot, except in peril of their lives, return to their own countries.

But what about closer to home? I am not the most representative person to talk about coming out, having taken 40 years to pluck up the courage to do just that. But the discussions we have in the LGBT+ staff group, and the experiences of colleagues, suggest that being out as a gay or lesbian man or woman is still not straightforward. If I was 18 today, roughly the age when I knew that I was physically attracted to my own sex, there would be huge advances in law and attitudes to empower me. But what if I heard, as we have, the Anglican Archbishop of York compare the Government's same sex Marriage Bill to the actions of the worst dictators? Or the Archbishop of Lyon liken homosexuality to incest and, by implication, incite the faithful to violence against it? That would - does - make me feel that, even now, my sexuality can be distorted to confine, as well as define, me.

For me, UCL has been the open space I could come out into. Do we yet have a space wide enough to allow us all to spread our wings?

Stephen Wall




Last updated: 30th November 2016