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Higher education is a place where LGBTQ+ students can begin to express themselves more openly, a report has suggested.

The ‘Next Steps: What is the experience of LGBT+ students in education?’ data was collected and published by UCAS in collaboration with Stonewall.

It was concluded that 64% of LGBTQ+ students are comfortable with being open about their identity at school, with this figure rising to 82% when it comes to university.

It was found that nine out of 10 LGBTQ+ students had a positive or neutral experience in education, with three quarters citing being accepted by peers as a key reason for this.

“At the turn of the millennium, teaching about LGBTQ+ subjects in schools was still illegal – this trailblazing research highlights the great progress made since then, with schools and colleges promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion,” Eloise Stonborough, Associate Director of Research and Policy at Stonewall, explained.

Despite this, more than one in 10 are uncertain of how “out” they will be when they enter higher education.

“I’ve faced a lot of transphobia and I don’t want to have to experience any more,” one said as their reasoning.

“It’s personal and I still need time to find out for myself,” another added.

Another shared: “Depends on who the people are/how comfortable I feel around them.”

Bullying was found to be the main reason for transgender students not enjoying school, with 17% saying they had a negative experience there – a figure 5% higher than LGBTQ+ students more generally.

New UCAS data also shows trans students are more likely to have lower attainment at school and higher rates of mental health conditions.

When applying to university, LGBTQ+ students were four times more likely to declare a mental health condition than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts at 13% vs 2.9%, respectively.

Approximately one in 250 UK domiciled applicants identify as trans, with 22% of this group declaring a mental health condition.

Urban areas were favoured by LGBTQ+ applicants, with a larger bias towards being placed at universities in the North-West and Scotland.

“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, and experience education without fear of discrimination or being treated differently,” UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said.

“This is especially the case when it comes to accommodation where students are suddenly living with strangers and working out how open they feel able to be.”

The report, published on 24 September by UCAS, analyses the one in 13 university applicants who declared they are LGBTQ+, in addition to the thoughts of almost 3,000 students who responded to a UCAS survey on their experiences of education so far.