It should perhaps go without saying that there are equality and diversity considerations across all protected characteristics when institutions forge international partnerships and send staff and students abroad.
For LGBT staff and students in particular, however, the stakes are often very high:
According to research conducted by HEGlobal UK HE TNE grew by 13.4% between 2012–13 and 2014–15. Looking forward, four in five universities at the time of research intended to expand their TNE provision over the next 3 years.
In terms of international mobility, universities are sending more staff and students overseas than ever before – a proportion of which will inevitably be LGB or T. And as the UK retains a high position (second only to the US) in world university rankings, the international student market continues to be a strategic priority for most institutions when maintaining or expanding their provision.
With the rapid rate of internationalisation across the sector, there are some pressing questions to be considered:
It can be difficult to know where to start with these questions, but even asking them is a huge advance in offering supportive practice for staff overseas. Various organisations can help with these conversations; for example, Stonewall's Global Diversity Champions programme is one way that institutions can access a framework designed specifically for them. Stonewall designed the programme to help guide universities through some of the key considerations of transnational education for staff and students. Stonewall also provides detailed country briefings, in-depth reports giving up-to-date information on the LGBT legal and cultural situation in hotspot countries. We have a network of more than 100 global organisations – across a range of sectors – providing great opportunities to share ideas and collaborate on new initiatives, via bi-monthly webinars and events.
Stonewall believes that everyone should be free to be themselves and be accepted without exception – regardless of where they are in the world. The founding principles of our international work require that we place those affected by human rights concerns at the heart of our work. To that effect, we support LGBT networks and groups in over 90 countries to realise the change that they would like to see, on their own terms. Universities can also play a critical role in inspiring and facilitating some of the change we want to see by contributing to a rich international movement for LGBT rights.
To find out more about Stonewall's international work or the Global Diversity Champions programme for universities more specifically, contact Pete directly via Pete.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mercerPete