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Students in a Pride event on Palace Green in Durham City, holding banners and placards

We are delighted to have been nominated for University of the Year in The Queer Student Awards 2023.

Celebrating our progress in promoting LGBTQ+ rights and fostering a safe environment

This nomination, made by one of our students, shows how Durham University is not only supporting students in general but also queer people (and other minority groups) specifically. The award nomination states:

"Durham University, particularly its LGBT Association and constituent colleges' respective LGBT societies, has been incredibly proactive this year in promoting LGBT rights and fostering a safe environment for Queer people. The President of the LGBT Association, Freddy Sperring, has frequent meetings with the EDI Pro-Vice Chancellor and visible changes have occurred within university structures including changing the forms that first years fill out to include preferred names and being more vigilant in how the university responds to homophobia reports."

Mentioned in the nomination specifically is Durham Students’ Union Welfare & Liberation Officer, Laura Curran, who has been "relentless in her advocacy for Queer rights".

Laura explained that working with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Dr Shaid Mahmood, students have felt empowered and driven to make change, including:

Trans and Non-Binary Café: The President of the LGBT+ Association, Freddie Sperring, alongside the university’s LGBT+ Staff Network and EDI Team, organised Durham’s first ever Trans and Non-Binary Café. After a very successful first event more of these will be held in the future.

Queer-friendly nights out in the city, providing a safe space for Queer students to explore more experimental and authentic fashion choices.

The EDI Discussion Group - A dedicated space to talk about anything EDI related with students.

Laura also attended the first ever North East Universities LGBTQ+ Regional Conference, which provided a chance to network with other university staff about the work they do in this area and learn from each other.

The nomination concludes that: "Durham University’s ongoing efforts to increase LGBT representation, inclusion, and protection leads me to believe that it is an ideal candidate for University of the Year as it not only has created more opportunities for young Queer expression but also actively engaged tough issues such as mental health and safety concerns in a succinct and impactful manner."

Durham University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for EDI, Dr Shaid Mahmood, says: "We are working hard to embed a culture of respect across our community, where people feel comfortable to be themselves and flourish. This award nomination is testament to the immense hard work and commitment of our students and staff."

About the awards

The Queer Student Awards (QSAs) are an annual hybrid celebration of talented young LGBTQ+ people, in the UK and beyond, who are proudly leading in their lives and the communities around them.

Created in 2021, the awards also recognise the work that allies, schools, colleges, universities, and employers are doing towards creating inclusive spaces that support young LGBTQ+ people and the adversities they experience every day - especially when it comes to navigating their career options and worrying about whether or not their sexuality or gender identity will act as a barrier to their future success.

The awards are judged by a panel of student recruitment industry experts, queer influencers, and young people from schools, colleges and universities.

We are delighted to have been nominated and the awards will be announced on Wednesday 14 June. Whatever the outcome, congratulations to all involved!

Find out more