Making a difference to society

Our values of professionalism, inclusiveness, integrity, community and academic excellence are at the heart of everything we do. We understand that what we do can have an impact on the wider community, which is why we take our social, economic and environmental responsibilities seriously.

Building relationships

We strive to ensure that everyone within the University is treated fairly, with dignity and respect; that the opportunities we provide are open to all; and that the University provides a safe, supportive and welcoming environment.

Equality and inclusion

As an international research-led University, Leeds strives to go beyond our legal duties to create a positive environment for our diverse community of staff and students.

The University works hard to promote gender equality and support the career development of talented women working in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, engineering and technology. The University renewed its Athena SWAN Bronze award in October 2016.

Leeds is committed to recruiting the brightest and best students regardless of background and our Reach for Excellence and Access to Leeds (A2L) programmes are key parts of our Access Agreement and Education Engagement Strategy. We have also developed an access strategy to recognise the needs of potential mature students.

Engaging with the community

Located close to the city centre, the University serves the community in a number of ways.

  • over 3,500 of our students and many staff work as local volunteers with over 350 students helping in local schools
  • residents and visitors to Leeds can access the University’s facilities including sport and fitness centre The Edge, the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, the Library Special Collections and the Michael Marks Building which houses the Marks and Spencer Company Archive
  • members of the public can participate in events including the University’s Be Curious festival, the Leeds Festival of Science and Yorkshire Sculpture International which is coordinated by the University and partners across the city.

Find out more about how we engage with the community


We have developed a sustainability strategy focused on four core themes:

  • developing knowledge and capacity
  • being a positive partner in society
  • enhancing our resource management
  • developing a collaborative organisation

To shape our action in tackling the global climate crisis, the University has also developed the key principles below. We are determined to take a lead in mobilising our combined knowledge, influence, assets and community, to help the world transition to a low carbon society and mitigate our impact on the environment. 

Sustainability is embedded in our decision making with social, environmental and economic impacts considered in our procurement process and in all of our major developments and investments.

We encourage our students to engage with sustainability through extra-curricular activities, and on campus we have developed our award winning partnership-based sustainable garden, linking edible planting, wildflower areas and research pods to create a space which is open to staff, students and the local community.

In November 2018, the University of Leeds and Leeds University Union together pledged to become single-use plastic-free by 2023.

The campaign, Single Out: 2023PlasticFree, crucially commits the University and Union to phase out single-use plastic across the board, not just in catering and office spaces.

Visit our sustainability website

Climate action 

We have seven bold principles, building on firm foundations of world-leading climate research, a strong focus on sustainability and our sector-leading education programmes.

Our principles commit us to a 2030 net-zero carbon footprint target and a drive to achieve no direct carbon emissions by 2050.

They also include a commitment to reorient research and teaching away from the fossil fuel sector over time. This complements the Climate Active Strategy adopted last year to guide University investment. 

As a result of this Climate Active Strategy, the University has withdrawn investment from significant fossil fuel extractors Total, BP and Shell (Royal Dutch Shell). 

Having done so, the University’s exposure to fossil fuel extraction is now minimal, with the limited investment in this sector now focused on supporting companies who are evidently making the transition to alternative energy sources and a low-carbon economy. 

Read more about our seven principles

Research integrity

The University’s research community is committed to adhering to high ethical standards and the University’s values in order to ensure the integrity of our innovative and high quality research.

As supporters of the UUK Concordat to Support Research Integrity we are committed to:

The University of Leeds Research Ethics Policy and ethical review procedures seek to protect, as far as possible, all groups involved in research including participants, researchers, funders and the University of Leeds throughout the lifespan of the research.

Data protection 

As a university, we may need to process information about our stakeholders including employees, students, alumni and the public for administrative, research and general business purposes. Our Data Protection Code of Practice sets out how we meet our legal obligations under the Data Protection Act to make sure we process and store this information fairly, lawfully and securely and that our stakeholders understand how their data is being used.

Modern slavery statement

Our modern slavery statement informs our students, staff, suppliers, stakeholders and the public about the steps that we have taken, and will take, to mitigate any risk of modern slavery, human trafficking, forced and bonded labour and labour rights violations within our organisation and supply chains.

Use of animals in research

The University of Leeds carries out research using animals to improve the health and welfare of human beings and animals, to provide a better understanding of the animals themselves, and for educational purposes. It uses animals only when there are no alternatives, and is firmly committed to the replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of animals in research (the 'three Rs').

Find out more about our animal research

Commitment to Fairtrade

We are proud to be a Fairtrade university and have been since 2005. Along with Leeds University Union we sell fairtrade foods in all shops and food outlets on campus and we're passionate about raising awareness of Fairtrade. The Fairtrade label guarantees a better deal for disadvantaged producers in the developing world.