The FAU Diversity concept

Below is the accessible version of FAU’s Diversity concept.



The Diversity concept, applicable across the whole of the University, is the basis for determining the concept for and strategic direction of diversity policy at FAU, and combines and prioritizes the various projects and measures relating to diversity already in place across the University. Part 1 expresses our sense of identity and FAU’s guiding visions in view of how diversity should be understood, integrated and put into practice at the University. Part 2 summarizes the status quo regarding diversity management in our central fields of action and the measures developed and implemented to date at FAU. Finally, part 3 covers future development goals and strategic areas of diversity to be focused on during the period of validity of our Diversity concept. The primary objective of the Diversity concept is the institutionalized development of diversity management as a cross-sectional task at the various organizational levels of the University and the systematic recognition of diversity in university steering mechanisms and strategy processes.

The Diversity concept ties in with the superordinate Equality concept for academic affairs (2018-2022) and provides further details for the area of diversity management. The overriding goal is to encourage equal opportunities, for which FAU relies not only on the strategies of gender mainstreaming and diversity management but also on strategies for balancing studying, work and family commitments. The impulses and strategic considerations for drafting the university-wide Diversity concept stem from the results of the two-year audit process “Vielfalt gestalten” (2016-2018) from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. The audit gave FAU occasion to reflect on its diversity work to date and consider options for developing the area further in the future. In February 2019, FAU was the first university in Bavaria to receive certification for three years for its successful work in the area of diversity management.

The Diversity concept was discussed and developed together with the University women’s representatives in the Diversity Committee and the Commission for Equal Opportunities. After that, the Vice President People presented the concept to the President’s Office, the extended Executive Board, the Academic Senate and the University Council. The Diversity concept was passed by the Executive Board on July 27, 2022. An accessible version of the Diversity concept is available at:



Diversity management at FAU:
Our sense of identity and guiding visions

Definition of the terms diversity and diversity management

The term diversity expresses variety, differences and heterogeneity. It describes the wide range of differences found among people, their social characteristics and personal situations, as well as individuals’ different requirements, experiences and abilities.

Academic literature often focuses on the “big 6” (nationality/ethnicity, gender, religion and ideological beliefs, disability, age and sexual identity). These six aspects are anchored as protected characteristics of diversity in the German General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (AGG)), that came into effect in 2006.

Diversity management is a steering instrument for organizational and human resources development that aims to encourage a deliberate and appreciative approach towards diversity as well as changing and shaping the organizational culture. As these processes focus on the entire organizational structure and all members of the organization, diversity management ought to be considered a managerial and cross-sectional task.

Diversity management at institutes of higher education means making a conscious effort to appreciate, value and encourage the diversity of members of the university. This entails nurturing a positive attitude towards diverse points of view, experiences and needs of different individuals in the context of research, teaching, studying and work. This diversity is reflected in the characteristics mentioned above, with the addition of social background as a factor in the context of educational establishments or specifically institutes of higher education. (The Charta der Vielfalt established social background as the 7th aspect of diversity in February 2021., last accessed April 28, 2021). The aim is to create a University culture which embraces diversity by achieving a thriving working and studying environment where teaching, research and university life can flourish and discrimination has no place.

Principles and vision

As a cosmopolitan university, FAU stands for diversity, innovation and passion and is characterized by the diversity of its members. Within the context of the strategic development initiated as part of the #FAU 2025 concept for the future and the FAU Development Plan, the significance of diversity is reflected in one of the three guiding principles and is a central vision contributing to the overall strategic direction and shaping the university’s profile. A wide range of subjects is just as important as diversity in cultures and individuals. At FAU, we strive not only to act in accordance with social responsibility but also to encourage an environment where people from different cultures live and work together and everyone is valued. Diversity features in universities’ “third mission” for more social engagement, and makes them fit for the future. Universities are not only places for generating knowledge, they also provide training and education and instigate social development.

In its concept for the future, FAU has defined four overriding strategic fields of action: PEOPLE – EDUCATION – RESEARCH – OUTREACH (P E R O), that represent the university’s key priorities for future development. In addition to these four strategic fields of action, we have four cross-sectional tasks that must be represented equally across all P E R O fields if they are to be effective across FAU as a whole. These cross-sectional tasks are equality, internationalization, sustainability and digitalization. Together with the P E R O fields of action, they form the thematic matrix at the core of our future development.

With the introduction of diversity management in 2012, FAU underlined the importance of this strategy as a further cross-sectional task and diversity competence as a guiding principle at all levels of planning and decision-making at the University. FAU sees diversity as an opportunity and recognizes the potential it carries, without losing sight of the related challenges. A requirement for successful diversity management is an open attitude and a willingness to change, reflect and accept the challenge of embarking on a learning curve when it comes to the development of the organization, with all the structural and cultural challenges this entails. Bearing this in mind, FAU views diversity management as a long-term, dynamic process in which both top-down and bottom-up measures are implemented to promote diversity from a strategic and operational point of view and contribute to the development of the University.

The conceptual approach to diversity management at FAU is based on an understanding that “diversity consists of differences and similarities” and looks beyond differences to focus on shared characteristics and what brings people together. An integral component of this approach is a focus on individual potential, while taking a strongly anti-discriminatory approach and an intersectional perspective. The concept of intersectionality is based on the premise that every person has several intersecting and overlapping identities that are either part of their intrinsic personality or that have been assigned to them by others. They may lead to intersectional discrimination based on several factors. An intersectional perspective therefore focuses on the individual and context-related connections between different aspects of diversity and the related way people view themselves and others.

FAU members have a wide range of abilities and experience both in respect to subject knowledge and personal skills, and these inevitably have an effect on their teaching, learning and working environments. We should exploit this potential as an opportunity for innovative and creative processes in research, teaching, working and studying. Excellent research requires creative impulses, a variety of perspectives and interdisciplinary visions. A gender-sensitive learning and working environment that takes the needs of students and staff into account has a positive impact on the satisfaction of all members and their ties to the university. Katja Becker, the President of the German Research Foundation (DFG), emphasizes the significance of diversity as a central prerequisite for excellent science. In her opinion, diversity and excellence are inseparable (see, last accessed April 28, 2021). Along the same lines, when recruiting diverse, excellent talents, FAU does not only pay attention to providing optimal, cutting-edge equipment and facilities in its research and working environment.  At the same time, it encourages an accessible learning and working environment where discrimination is not tolerated and people are valued, an environment where individual, creative potential can flourish.

Based on this understanding, various measures aimed at promoting equal opportunities and encouraging certain target groups to get more involved have been introduced since diversity management was implemented at FAU. FAU also develops projects that go beyond addressing any one particular target group and aim instead to bring about structural change. The long-term goal is to establish gender mainstreaming sustainably and systematically across central processes and structures, initiating any changes required, as well as to raise awareness for the benefits of an inclusive university and encourage a change of culture. With this in mind, FAU is pursuing the vision of achieving and maintaining an inclusive scientific and university culture characterized by diversity, innovation and passion, today and in the future.

Legal framework and commitments

Equal opportunities and anti-discrimination are stipulated as a legal requirement in various legal provisions in Germany and Europe. In Germany, these prerequisites are stipulated at a constitutional level, with Article 1 of the German Basic Law guaranteeing the protection of human dignity and Articles 2 and 3 guaranteeing the right to personal freedom and equal rights for all genders.

In addition, the German General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG) dated August 14, 2006 provides the legal framework for the implementation of the European directives from 2000-2004. The AGG is a federal German law and covers working life and daily business. The aim of the law is to prevent or to stop discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in these areas of life (Section 1).

The other main legal foundations with reference in particular to equal opportunities for disabled people are the Social Security Code IX on the Rehabilitation and Participation of Disabled People (SGB IX) dated June 19, 2001, the Act on the Equal Treatment of Disabled People (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz– BGG) dated April 27, 2002, the German Civil Code (BGB) 13 and the Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, BetrVG). Individual equality strands such as disability and ethnic origin have already been incorporated into the laws governing universities with respect to students (Framework Act for Higher Education, Hochschulrahmengesetz, Section 2 (4), (5), State Higher Education Acts, Landeshochschulgesetze).

Over recent years, laws governing higher education at a regional level within Germany have added provisions of relevance to diversity, making it a legal prerequisite for institutes of higher education to draw up a diversity concept (diversity management), and appoint diversity or anti-discrimination officers.


Implementing equal opportunities for all members of the University is a prime concern throughout FAU. It takes priority in all relevant University bodies, boards and committees, as well as at all levels of planning and decision-making

This commitment is reflected in the revised FAU Development Plan. FAU advocates equality, diversity and a good work-life balance and promotes a “culture nurturing diversity in thoughts and actions that has lasting lifelong effects” in the University. In aiming to provide equal opportunities for all,  the innovative potential of diversity is accentuated and FAU has committed to encouraging the continued development of structural processes for implementation and change based on diversity mainstreaming. The FAU mission statement (, last accessed April 28, 2021) emphasizes the prevention of discrimination as a central factor for achieving equality: “We value all University employees, regardless of gender, sexual identity, ethnicity, religious beliefs or world views, social background, age or disability. We oppose all forms of discrimination and advocate a balance between study, work and family life.” The mission statement for teaching and studying makes the overarching profile lines of the mission statement more specific by stating strategic targets, including for the area of gender and diversity: “FAU has a range of special programs which enable students with alternative educational backgrounds to study at the University, while taking into account the issues surrounding gender and diversity and the challenges of a changing society.”

By signing the Charta der Vielfalt, in connection with the launch of the new area of diversity management in 2012, FAU undertook to encourage diversity and take a stance against discrimination. FAU was one of the first German universities to take part in the HRK Internationalization audit in 2012 and successfully completed the re-audit Internationalization (2015-2019) in 2019. Internationalization has a valuable contribution to make to cultural diversity. FAU used the certification process “audit familiengerechte hochschule” (2008-2017) to establish and continue to encourage a family-friendly university and working environment. A further step FAU has taken to keep developing the attained status of a family-friendly university in constructive internal and external exchanges was introducing the “Code of conduct – family-friendly FAU” passed by the Executive Board in 2016. In this code of conduct, FAU sets out its basic values concerning family policy, internal university standards, and its visions for a family-friendly future. At FAU, family in this respect refers to people living together and taking on long-term social responsibility in the broadest sense. The focus of family duties lies on caring for children or other relatives. In September 2016, FAU signed the charter “Familie in der Hochschule” and joined the best practice club of the same name.

FAU’s Equality concept for academic affairs (2018-2022) sets out the content, strategic direction and concept behind FAU’s approach to policy making with respect to equal opportunities, diversity and family. It sets forth FAU’s approach to equality, defines the strategies implemented in this respect, provides an overview of all the relevant measures and describes how these are incorporated into FAU’s strategy and integrated into the structure of the University, before looking to the future. The overarching instrument in place at FAU for increasing the proportion of women in academia are the target agreements concluded between the Executive Board and the faculties since 2005. These target agreements are based on the structural and personnel equality standards of the DFG, statistics from the faculties and departments, and a cascade model. Innovative faculty-specific measures are in place to support excellent young female researchers on their path towards gaining a professorship. The target agreements are currently in their third round (2018-2022). The Guidelines on preventing and dealing with cases of discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen (UKER) came into effect on June 1, 2021, ensuring that cases of discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment are dealt with transparently at FAU and UKER (see 3.2.1).

After successfully completing the audit process of the Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft (2016-2018) held every two years, FAU received the certificate “Vielfalt gestalten” in 2019.

The audit raised the issue of religion and belief, and relevant processes have since been initiated, going beyond the scope of the audit. In early 2020, a working group was set up at the initiative of the Vice President People and led by the Office of Equality and Diversity in order to draft a code of conduct for religious and ideological diversity, involving a wide range of representatives from various areas. This code of conduct sets forth FAU’s point of view and stance towards religious and ideological diversity and gives a framework for taking an inclusive approach to dealing with religious and ideological diversity at the University. After being presented in several committees, the code of conduct was passed by the Executive Board on November 17, 2021.

Diversity management at FAU:
Status quo

Status quo

Part 2 begins with an introduction to FAU’s central and ongoing fields of action with respect to diversity management and outlines the main activities in this area. On this basis, Part III presents the future strategic development goals and gives more details on the main equality strands which are the focus of selected projects and measures.

Structural integration

The topic of equal opportunities is included in the portfolio of one of the Vice Presidents at the management level of the University. Since April 2018 it has been assigned to the Vice President People. A central role in the development and implementation of diversity-oriented concepts and measures is also played by the Commission for Equal Opportunities, the Office of Equality and Diversity, the Diversity Committee, and discussions with the University and Faculty women’s representatives. The standing Commission for Equal Opportunities chaired by the Vice President People presents the Executive Board with concepts and suggestions for action concerning the development and implementation of equality, diversity and family measures at FAU. The Office of Equality and Diversity is the central FAU institution dealing with everything to do with equal opportunities. It is involved in the initial strategic considerations, followed by the active implementation and evaluation of the many-faceted instruments and measures for encouraging equal opportunities. The Office of Equality and Diversity also supports the University and Faculty women’s representatives at FAU in carrying out their legally defined responsibilities. The Office also offers advice in questions relating to equal opportunities and financial funding options for young female researchers. In addition, it is the first port of call for cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. The Equal Opportunities Officer encourages and monitors the implementation of the Bavarian Equal Treatment Act (BAyGIG) with respect to non-academic staff. The Equal Opportunities Officer also works to improve options for balancing work and family commitments for non-academic staff. The FAU and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen Family Service offers a comprehensive range of services to employees and students who have children or relatives who need care, allowing them to balance studying, work and family commitments. The Family Service gives advice, can provide childcare or help find a babysitter and can offer support for university members with caring responsibilities. With FAU’s open and welcoming culture embracing international students and staff, families arriving from abroad can rely on the Welcome Center for support in dealing with authorities, looking for accommodation and organizing childcare. The Welcome Center works closely together with the Family Service. As part of FAU’s family-friendly personnel policy, consideration for partners’ careers constitutes an important factor in recruiting qualified researchers. FAU provides individual and comprehensive support for dual career couples with the Dual Career Service. FAU is a founding member of the Dual Career Netzwerk Nordbayern (DCNN).

In 2021, FAU introduced the position of Officer for the Prevention of Antisemitism and appointed a professor to the position. The officer acts as a point of contact for Jewish students, researchers, teaching staff and employees and is also the point of contact for reporting any suspected instances of antisemitism in or around FAU. In close consultation with the Commission for Equal Opportunities, the Diversity committee was established after the diversity audit (2016-2018). The Committee is a cross-faculty forum made up of various functionaries, status and target groups, representative bodies and stakeholders who deal with diversity-related questions, processes and action that needs to be taken in this area at FAU. It is an interdisciplinary forum for communication that not only provides opportunities for exchanging information and networking, but also initiates measures and draws up recommendations.

In addition to structural integration across the University as a whole, further strategic developments at the faculty level are also worthy of mention. The Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology undertook to encourage the diversity of students and staff as early as 2012 in its Equality concept and in 2014 in its mission statement. It appointed a Diversity Officer as a pilot project. In addition to the above-mentioned Equality concept, in December 2015 a Diversity concept was passed for the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology. A diversity officer was also appointed by the School of Business, Economics and Society in July 2018. In this context, one of FAU’s overarching goals is to appoint further decentralized diversity officers (see chapter 3.1).

Research and teaching


There has been a professorship for Social Psychology, Gender and Diversity at the Institute of Psychology since 1993. In 2016, FAU established the Chair of Educational Science, focusing on Diversity Education and International Education Research at the Department of Education. In 2021, this was joined by a professorship for Science, Technology, and Gender Studies.

The Interdisciplinary Center Gender – Difference – Diversity (IZGDD) was established in 2017 in order to pool and consolidate gender and diversity research at FAU. The IZGDD aims to bring together and expand existing key priorities in individual disciplines at FAU. One of the Center’s main concerns is to bundle the interests, activities and expertise of relevance to gender, difference and diversity from the various subject areas as well as to define and venture into new areas through interdisciplinary collaborations,  developing adequate approaches for researching them. The IZGDD offers a forum for discussions in this area over the long term, and an opportunity to concentrate research activities in this area, to work together to prepare for larger projects, to coordinate teaching and further education, to offer potential opportunities for cooperation with extramural actors and to increase the visibility of this area at FAU as a whole. Finally, the Center offers young researchers the opportunity to network and receive encouragement in this area. The University strives to realize the goals of equality, diversity and internationalization anchored in its “Mission: Teaching and studying”, and to ensure participation of all students, irrespective of their social group, their personal situation or their current circumstances.

With its Center for Teacher Education (ZfL) offering State Examination degree programs for teaching at primary and secondary schools (Grundschule, Mittelschule, Realschule and Gymnasium) and the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in vocational training (Business Education, Technical Vocational Education and Training), FAU is one of the central locations for teacher training in Bavaria. The University sees training qualified teachers as one of its central tasks, a task that takes the many and varied challenges in our constantly changing society today and in the future into consideration. One of the priorities in teacher training is dealing with diversity, which is one of the key elements for holistic and inclusive education. In addition, diversity in teacher training is one of the fields of action in the Diversity concept of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology. An awareness of diversity is an essential prerequisite for boosting the professionalism of teachers and actively shaping and changing society. Teacher training lays a particular focus on forming ethical and moral values and covers issues relating to human rights. FAU relies on findings from current research in the disciplines relating to teacher training and links research to the profession. With the project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) called “Quality in Teaching and Studies – QuiS”, FAU succeeded in improving teaching and study conditions in the first funding phase (2012-2016) and the second funding phase (2016-2020). The aim of the multi-faceted QuiS projects was to lower barriers to studying, reduce the number of dropouts, implement innovative teaching and learning models and generally improve the quality of teaching. During the second funding phase “QuiS II”, the diversity scouts project based at the Office of Equality and Diversity was successfully implemented in close collaboration with the faculties, as was the collaborative “Learning Lab” project. The diversity scouts were employed as student assistants and obtained training from the Office of Equality and Diversity in various aspects of diversity, raising their awareness of issues and increasing their expertise. After completing training, they assumed an active role as peers in the faculties and in the central Learning Lab, focusing on providing advice, organizing events and PR. The Learning Lab also followed the peer-to-peer approach and offered students a wide range of options for sharing their opinions as well as providing expert assistance with writing and learning consultations. Apart from making it easier for students to get to grips with studying, as the study progressed, both projects also served to increase study skills and diversity-oriented expertise, as well as encouraging students to network with each other. Both projects expired at the end of 2020 after the completion of their four year funding period.

Another institute established at FAU is the Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI). Representing education in digital expertise at FAU, ILI supports teaching staff in implementing innovative teaching and learning scenarios (for example blended learning and inverted classroom formats, electronic examinations, media production and integrating educational films in teaching). The option of learning and sharing ideas with others without being bound to any particular time or place allows people whose situation makes it difficult for them to commit to attending classes in person in the long-term or to changing locations organize their studies flexibly. Integrating digital elements may also allow other services offered by the University to be opened up to target groups which have not been reached to date. Last but not least, modern information and communication technologies can make it easier to obtain international experience. As part of the Quality Pact for Teaching, the Quality in studying and teaching project (QuiS) coordinated by ILI has established a comprehensive range of services for teaching staff including consultations on developing courses, qualification programs (training and workshops), video and StudOn meetings, loaning video equipment, funding concepts for implementing digital support formats, regular networking meetings and events such as “Tag der Lehre” (Teaching Day). In 2017, the “Tag der Lehre” organized annually by ILI and the Center for Continuing Education in University-Level Teaching (FBZHL) focused on “the creative potential of diversity”, working in cooperation with the Office of Equality and Diversity.



Within the context of diversity management, monitoring offers the foundation for describing and analyzing the status quo and for developing, implementing and evaluating operative measures and strategic goals. Knowledge of the diverse backgrounds of students and staff is essential not only to provide facts on the existing diversity at the University, but also in order to be able to initiate and implement measures tailored to suit the actual situation.

Statistical data may also indicate structural disadvantages by giving relevant information about the opportunities available to the various status groups in study, research and administration with respect to access, participation and advancement, and also how these evolve over time. Within the context of gender and diversity monitoring, the Office of Equality and Diversity draws up differentiated university statistics on the proportion of genders and on other aspects of diversity among staff and students in the various academic qualification levels. Once a year, the Office of Equality and Diversity holds presentations for the University and Faculty women’s representatives on gender-specific figures across the University, the faculties and the departments. In addition, the figures are discussed in the Executive Board and the Senate at regular intervals. Data protection provisions, however, mean that the statistical figures on diversity are rather restricted. One of the main challenges for diversity monitoring at universities are the data protection restrictions imposed on systematically gathering diversity-related statistics on students and staff. For this reason, the only statistics that are gathered as standard at FAU are on gender, nationality and age. Other data of relevance to diversity (such as migration background, social background, sexual and religious orientation and caring responsibilities) can be collected on a voluntary basis in representative surveys.

Gender and diversity monitoring at FAU focuses particularly on evaluating and analyzing university statistics (in collaboration with Data and Management Information,, last accessed April 24, 2021) and the results of the annual FAU student survey (FAU-St) in collaboration with Legal Affairs and Academic Quality Management (L1). As of 2017, an additional module has been developed in collaboration with the Office of Equality and Diversity and integrated into the FAU-St survey. This module includes questions on parents, previous education and migration background, with further questions of relevance to diversity being added every year. The representative survey FAU-St therefore allows us to gather more data on the diversity of students at FAU. A summary of the results of the additional diversity module is published annually on the website of the Office of Equality and Diversity.

Against this backdrop, our aim is to develop a concept for sustainable diversity monitoring based on statistics and going beyond simply providing an overview of descriptive results. The aim is to implement an empirically founded data gathering tool that allows specific needs for action with regard to diversity to be derived, implemented and monitored, along with the relevant strategic and operative measures for the University. Ensuring ongoing and needs-oriented gender and diversity monitoring is not only an important information, planning and steering tool for effective equality and diversity policymaking but also a contribution to diversity-sensitive quality management at the University.

Communications and public relations


The motto of the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK) in 2009 “Communicate internally – make an impact externally” indicates that a good communication culture within universities is an essential basis for making an impact externally.

For FAU, establishing diversity management as an interdepartmental task at the organizational level of the University coupled with strategic communication and raising awareness on the way towards establishing a university culture sensitive to aspects of diversity is an ongoing and long-term work in progress. If the whole of the University is to be reached, essential key processes include encouraging ongoing, targeted communication about diversity (top-down) and recruiting multipliers (bottom-up) who follow up on tasks and offers and integrate them into central processes and structures.

Communication with various target groups via effective internal and external PR work is of great importance. Working in close collaboration with Communications and Press, the topics of equality and diversity have been given pride of place on the FAU website, which has significantly raised the visibility of this multi-faceted area. In the FAU magazine “Alexander”, that is available to all students and staff at FAU as well as the general public, the title article in 2018 was “Untypical is normal. Diversity: What is important for FAU?” That apart, various topics and initiatives relating to diversity are often introduced in the FAU newsletter. In addition to the Diversity committee established in 2019 as an inter-faculty communication structure, other exchange forums and working groups in the area of diversity offer options for various target groups to become involved in the area of diversity.


Networking and cooperation


Networking and partnerships with external parties is just as important as internal communication and networking. This pays a valuable contribution to the University making a position for itself both where it is based and in the surrounding region as well as contributing to the University’s reputation and attractiveness as a whole.

The first partnerships with the City of Erlangen and Siemens Healthineers in Erlangen were launched in 2016, and we intend to continue with them in to the future. One example is the postcard campaign launched in the three linked organizations for German Diversity Day in 2017 which encouraged people to stop and think about which linguistic stereotypes cross their lips on a daily basis. Referring to phrases used carelessly in everyday situations like, “the poor thing is stuck in a wheelchair” or “Where do you come from originally?” were used to raise awareness of stereotyping in our daily interactions with each other. In addition, since 2017 FAU raises the flag from the Charta der Vielfalt at central buildings in Erlangen on five international days against discrimination. These campaigns reflect FAU’s stance of advocating diversity both in the University and beyond. FAU is involved in regional networks promoting diversity (including the Coordination committee for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region and the Round table for inclusion run by the City of Erlangen), and in two national networks promoting diversity at universities.

FAU is a member of the German national association of office holders for diversity and diversity management at the University management level, who work together to encourage discussion and incorporate diversity management into institutes of higher education. That apart, FAU has also been a working member of the German “Netzwerk zu Diversity an Hochschulen” (Network on Diversity at Institutes of Higher Education) since 2013 (currently over 60 universities and universities of applied science are represented). The network facilitates expert discussions with colleagues who are familiar with implementing diversity and anti-discrimination tasks at German institutes of higher education. The aim is to identify the challenges of promoting diversity at institutes of higher education, boost diversity and anti-discrimination activities at institutes of higher education and institutionalize diversity strategies with the over-riding aim of bringing about cultural change.

Diversity management at FAU:
Strategic objectives and areas of diversity

Strategic objectives and areas of diversity

The following sets out the cross-sectional, strategic development goals and the areas of diversity we intend focusing on in the coming years (2022-2027). The specific focus on various areas of diversity is made clear by describing selected projects and measures.

Development goals

In order to achieve a university and research culture sensitive to gender and diversity, FAU has set itself the following development goals for the term of this concept, linked to and expanding on the goals in the Equality concept (2018-2022):

Implementation of diversity management as a cross-sectional task in university-wide processes for strategic development both at the level of the university and at faculty level. Designating those responsible and responsibilities at faculty and department level.

Linking diversity management to other strategy processes (gender mainstreaming, internationalization, encouraging research and supporting young researchers, personnel development) in order to ensure a strategic and sustainable approach.

Promoting a culture of valuing diversity by raising awareness for diversity and discrimination issues as well as training diversity competence at all levels of the University.

Extending research and teaching focusing on issues of gender and diversity by actively incorporating and reflecting on diversity when developing research questions and methods and taking such aspects into account with reference to researchers and teaching staff themselves.

Implementing anti-discrimination measures as an integral component of ensuring equal opportunities and diversity by creating transparent advice and complaints structures as well as other preventative measures.

Encouraging inclusion by breaking down barriers and creating frameworks establishing equal opportunities for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses and allowing them to study and work under their own terms.

Encouraging equal opportunities in education with the aim of increasing opportunities for people to access and become involved in university-level education or science by recruiting, enabling and representing under-represented groups among students and in their further academic career.

Improving the visibility and recognition of the diversity of gender and sexual-orientation as well as improving conditions for living, working and researching together free from stereotypes and exclusion.

Strategic fields of diversity

As explained in chapter 1.1., diversity is the term used to describe the heterogeneity of all people, with a focus on various key aspects. Each of these individual aspects of diversity covers specific circumstances and experiences but they also merge and overlap to a certain extent. The following outlines our strategic focus in various key fields of diversity, determined on the basis of a multi-faceted process of discussions and decisions involving various status and target groups, and based in particular on the findings of our diversity audit held every two years. With such a wide range of topics and varying requirements for action, it is necessary to follow a strategy to consolidate, prioritize and lay the focus on specific areas if diversity management is to be successful.  Our intersectional approach means that we acknowledge the relevance of other interlocking aspects and make a point of considering them when planning and implementing measures.

Bearing this in mind, FAU will focus in the coming years on the following fields of diversity of relevance to society and university policymaking: anti-discrimination, equal opportunities in education, inclusion, and diversity in gender and sexual orientation.



An awareness of prejudice and a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination is a key component of diversity management at FAU. The aim is to create a studying and working environment with no room for discrimination, working towards a university culture that embraces diversity. Diversity has the potential to boost innovation and development. Prevention against discrimination and the necessary preventative measures are an important prerequisite for individuals being able to exploit their full potential in the learning, working and research environment at the University. Furthermore, universities are employers and are therefore also subject to the terms of the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG)( , last accessed April 28, 2021). The General Equal Treatment Act (Sections 12 and 13) stipulates certain rights and obligations that apply to institutes of higher education, placing them under an obligation to take adequate steps to prevent discrimination. The Guidelines on preventing and dealing with cases of discrimination and sexual harassment at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen (UKER) came into effect on June 1, 2021. These guidelines ensure that cases of discrimination and sexual harassment are dealt with transparently at FAU and UKER. They set out rights and obligations and name initial points of contact and counseling services available to those affected by discrimination or sexual harassment. They detail a structured procedure for filing an official complaint and outline a catalog of sanctions and preventative measures.

The Students’ Representatives’ Working Group Against Discrimination and Racism (“AntiDisRa”) is a point of contact for students and is active in various areas. One area the working group focuses on is integration, and they are responsible for coordinating the buddy program for refugees. One other focus area is commitment against right-wing extremism. A central measure against discrimination organized by the Office of Equality and Diversity to provide a forum for communication and action is the “Anti-discrimination forum”. The forum provides long-term networking opportunities for various central and decentralized advisory offices and counseling services and other representatives or points of contact. The aim is to identify needs for action and draw up recommendations for dealing with cases of discrimination in a uniform and transparent manner and to raise awareness within the University.

In February 2020, a conference on discrimination in universities was organized to raise awareness and encourage networking. It focused on anti-discrimination policies and structures at institutes of higher education. The aim was to discuss specific questions on how to shape structures for advice and complaints, how to establish proactive PR at FAU and how to raise awareness for discrimination among members of the University. The conference led to the establishment of a Bavarian network of stakeholders from the areas of equality, diversity and anti-discrimination at the instigation of FAU and the University of Bayreuth.

Equality of education – equal opportunities for access, participation and progression

Making education available to all and opening up options for progression through university study and academia to a wide and diverse group of the population is crucial if universities are to remain competitive and fit for the future.

Even though the dimension of social background is becoming more important in sociopolitical discussions, diversity management at universities is only just starting to pay attention to the aspect of equality of education.

Access to university study in German still very much depends on social background. According to the report on education at institutes of higher education (Hochschul-Bildungs-Report 2020), of 100 primary school children from non-academic households, only 21 enroll at university, compared to 74 out of 100 children from academic households. This trend continues in the university system. In addition to exploring the question of which factors could encourage students to start university, it is also worth looking at which structures and factors are required for students to complete their degree program successfully. Studies have shown that students from non-academic families, if they decide to go to university at all, often choose to study shorter or more practical degree programs, are less mobile, both within Germany and abroad, and often report feeling unsure about guidance and planning procedures while studying or planning their further career (possibly within academia), more so than fellow students from academic households. In summary, students from academic households pursue their studies and take related decisions with a greater sense of security and self-confidence.

Universities are faced with the task of not only improving access to university study, but also introducing suitable measures to support students starting out at university, completing their degree programs, and successfully beginning a career. As the above-mentioned university report shows, even once students do start at university, there are other hurdles that have an negative impact on students completing their degree or progressing further in an academic career, and may even lead to them dropping out altogether.

FAU is not only facing up to the challenge of catering to the needs of an increasingly diverse group of students and staff, it is also keen in view of demographic change to make the most of the potential of target groups that have until now been under-represented at universities. It takes a resource-oriented approach for enabling and representing under-represented groups, with the aim of increasing the opportunities of students in particular to access and participate in university-level education. Projects and measures aimed at encouraging equality of education at FAU focus both on providing tailored support to encourage individuals to exploit their full potential, and on implementing structural measures such as funding programs (QUIS projects) or flexible modes of study and digital learning formats (see chapter 2.1.2)

At the level of the individual, the Office of Equality and Diversity offers services focusing on social background and education. They are intended to encourage reflection on obstacles and opportunities of relevance to education during university study and during an academic career and lead to an improvement in individuals’ skills. These services are aimed at increasing participation in education and equal opportunities at FAU. Since 2018, a workshop entitled “Heimliche Begleiter” has been available for students without an academic background and young people who have either come to the university after completing vocational training or work experience, or who are the first in their families to attend university. This workshop is aimed at boosting the self-confidence and skills of students to allow them to cope better with obstacles they may encounter while studying. The workshop uses playful elements from theater pedagogy to encourage participants to explore creative alternative approaches to studying.  Another pilot project run jointly by the Office of Equality and Diversity and the Graduate Center was introduced in 2019: a workshop for young researchers of the first generation. The workshop uses a wide variety of interactive methods to pinpoint the resources the new academics have at their disposal and explore how they can use them for their academic career.

In addition, the Office of Equality and Diversity is involved in the national initiative for children from working class families and advertises the services it offers for students and other interested parties at FAU.

Inclusion – breaking down barriers

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN-CRPD 2009), inclusion means that all people are equally entitled to participate in political, public, economic and cultural life. We are obliged to create a framework and structures that give people equal rights of participation. The focus is on inclusion, rather than on expecting people with disabilities to adapt to an existing social system. Until now, the focus tends to have been on helping and supporting individuals rather than on creating conditions that facilitate an inclusive university education.

FAU is committed to allowing people with disabilities or a chronic illness to take a self-determined approach to participation and to provide them with equal opportunities for studying and working based on UN BRK 2009, the recommendations of the German Rectors’ Conference (2009) and the resolution passed by the German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW), 2010) “One University for All” (2009). The focus lies on identifying and sustainably removing structural and individual obstacles to people with disabilities accessing and participating in university life. Various studies (DSW 2017, best2 2018) have indicated a wide range of restrictions faced by students with disabilities and chronic illnesses when starting studies and as their degree programs progress that can lead to various difficulties, and even result in them dropping out. According to the 21st social survey undertaken by the German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk, DSW) in 2017, 11% of students have one or more health issues that impact their ability to study.

The evaluation of the additional diversity module in the FAU-St student survey in 2019 showed that 14% of students who took part in the study had either a chronic illness or a physical or mental disability. Students with disabilities were significantly more dissatisfied with all questioned aspects (content, conditions, coping with stress) and had a higher tendency to discontinue their studies.


Regular services and projects

Alongside regular advisory services, FAU also offers a number of projects and measures tailored to specific target groups. Since 1986, FAU has offered students with disabilities and chronic illnesses the option to book an individual consultation with the Disability Liaison Officer, not only with the Student Advice and Career Service.

In addition, the “Bliseh” project for the inclusion of blind and visually impaired students was launched in winter semester 2011/2012 at the Center for Applied Ethics and Science Communication (ZIWIS). Within the framework of this project, blind and visually impaired students at FAU are given extensive support from a blind project member. This includes individual assistance for students, for example with their academic research or using the library, helping them to prepare for exams and teaching relevant key qualifications.

With respect to employees, the Disability Liaison Office provides advice to and represents approximately 280 FAU members of staff. Inclusion officers at FAU also act on behalf of the employer to ensure that all legal requirements vis-à-vis people with disabilities are met. Some of these legal requirements are set out in the Bavarian Inclusion Guidelines (Bayerische Inklusionsrichtlinien, revised 2019). These aim to implement improvements in the legal framework for the inclusion of disabled members of the public service.

The Office of Equality and Diversity offers events for raising awareness and encouraging networking among various target groups. The annual information event “Studium und dann? – Berufseinstieg mit Beeinträchtigung (“Graduation and then what? Starting out on a career with a disability”) gives an overview of the various offices available to give advice on starting a career with a disability, both at FAU and elsewhere.

This has also led to the Zoom chat held twice a month where students and doctoral candidates can meet to network and have a chat.

In the area of inclusive, accessible teaching, the Office of Equality and Diversity has organized events aimed at raising awareness for teaching staff since summer semester 2015 via the Center for Continuing Education in University-Level Teaching (FBZHL) and in cooperation with the Disability Liaison Officer. In addition, the Office of Equality and Diversity offers a wide range of information and handouts on its website for teaching staff and students on the topic of accessible teaching and digital accessibility ( lehrende-und-studierende/, last accessed February 12, 2021).

Finally, the Vice President People represents FAU in the board of LAUT (Leben, Arbeiten und Teilhaben in einer inklusiven Gesellschaft – life, work and participation in an inclusive society). LAUT is a model project run jointly by Jobcenter Erlangen and Jobcenter Erlangen-Höchststadt funded for a total of five years (2021-2026) as part of the federal program for finding innovative ways of participating in working life, (“rehapro”). The aim of the project is to achieve a lasting improvement in earning opportunities for people with disabilities receiving benefits in accordance with the second book of the German Social Security Code (SGB II).

IT and site development: Accessibility

As stated by the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (Deutscher Hochschulverband) in its position paper for an “inclusive university” (2015), site accessibility remains a task for the future. Altering all lecture halls, seminar rooms and advisory offices to take the needs of students and members of staff with a disability or chronic illness is a long-term challenge.

FAU is actively tackling construction obstacles as part of the special investment program “Bayern Barrierefrei 2023” (accessible Bavaria). The program is an investment program run by the Free State of Bavaria, with the aim of making public spaces and public transport in Bavaria accessible by 2023. For FAU this means that public access to buildings, entrance areas that are intended for the general public and the interiors of buildings should be made as accessible as possible by altering corridors, elevators, toilets etc.

A number of other measures focusing on accessibility are also required as part of the the project “Inclusion at FAU” (2019-2022) (, last accessed on April 28, 2021) within the framework of the Innovationsbündnis 4.0 (Innovation Alliance) between the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts and FAU. For example, FAU will take stock of the situation as it is at present and draft an inclusion concept. In addition, information about the accessibility of central buildings within the University will be made available in a digital format. Our actions will be guided by a concept that combines improvements in accessibility with active PR and measures aimed at raising awareness.

One measure that has already been implemented in the area of PR work is the campaign run in conjunction with Diversity Day 2020 with the title: “Inclusion at FAU: a learning and working environment for everyone – is it still a distant utopia or are we well on the way already?” Brief interviews were held with various stakeholders at FAU on the topic of inclusion and published on the Office of Equality and Diversity’s website. Networking is a central factor, both with the various stakeholders within FAU but also with regional bodies such as the Round Table for Inclusion at the City of Erlangen, the Zentrum für Selbstbestimmtes Leben (Center for Self-Determined Living, LSL) or the advisory office for accessibility at the Bavarian Chamber of Architects.

In the area of information technology, the Act on the Equal Treatment of Disabled People (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz– BGG) which became valid on May 1, 2002, stipulates that all public service websites, and therefore all FAU websites, have to be accessible. The Executive Board had already passed rules in this respect before the legal requirements came into effect. As an official supporter of the Action alliance for accessible information technology (AbI), the Erlangen Regional Computing Center (RRZE) provides assistance in ensuring the accessibility of websites by offering advice and technical expertise. In addition, the IT law department at the Erlangen Regional Computing Center (RRZE) has published Guidelines on digital accessibility: Improved user friendliness, search machine optimization and inclusion. Making life easy for us all!

Furthermore, the Office of Equality and Diversity, the Disability Liaison Office and the RRZE have worked together to support the implementation of accessibility of websites and mobile applications at FAU by drafting a “Brief guide to improving digital accessibility at FAU” (, last accessed on April 28, 2021), which is available on the website of the Office of Equality and Diversity and the RRZE.

Diversity in gender and sexual orientation: Open to diverse life plans and identities

When thinking of gender dimensions, most people and indeed society as a whole often tend to think of heterosexual ways of life and the binary categories of men and women. However, that is not enough to adequately describe the wide range of life plans and gender identities encountered in society and at universities today. FAU advocates acceptance and recognition of diversity in gender and sexual orientation and everyone’s right to exercise their own freedom of choice and enjoy equal opportunities at the University. It will make every effort to create a university environment in which university members feel welcome, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. FAU uses a variety of different strategies, including close links with regional organizations such as city councils, companies and civic organizations, to raise the visibility and awareness of diversity in gender and sexual orientation both within and outside the University. Space constraints mean that only a few can be mentioned here as an example.

In order to increase the visibility of diversity in gender and sexual orientation, a rainbow flag is raised on major university buildings on the annual international day against homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on May 17, and thanks to the efforts of student representatives, FAU now officially takes part in Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Nuremberg and Erlangen.

FAU is also involved in the Coordination committee for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region (“Koordinierungskreis SOGI”). Established in 2014, it includes representatives from city administration, educational facilities and society, as well as the Office of Equality and Diversity, other representatives from FAU, the gay-lesbian center “Fliederlich e.V.” and municipal equal opportunities officers. The coordination committee advocates recognition of diversity in gender and sexual orientation and stands up against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As well as providing a forum for discussion, the committee focuses on working together to initiate and organize events, projects and training courses on the topic. In 2019, FAU passed recommendations for gender-sensitive language aimed at making a contribution towards treating and addressing all people equally, thereby supporting inclusive communication at the University.

Since the Civil Status Act (Personenstandgesetz, PStG) was amended in late 2018, people in Germany can can now choose what is known as the “third option” when registering their status: “male”, “female”, or “diverse (alongside the option “not specified”). In this context, transsexual, intersexual and non-binary students at FAU who change their gender are able to change their name and chosen form of address provisionally before a court order is passed or their civil status amended. Further information on changing names is available on the website of the Student Records Office.

Another issue that has gained in importance in this context is the question of installing all-gender toilets at FAU. All-gender toilets are installed wherever necessary to allow FAU members of all genders to access sanitary facilities without discrimination. We decide where all-gender toilets would make sense by considering the students and members of staff at the University. In order to find a practical solution, the Office of Equality and Diversity has drawn up internal recommendations for installing all-gender toilets. In the case of new buildings and renovation projects at FAU, all-gender toilets should be planned from the outset. Further support structures within FAU are available via the Students’ Representatives (StuVe). The students’ Queer Working Group offers queer students advice and opportunities for networking or taking part in joint activities. Interested students can address any questions or suggestions they have on the topic of LGBTIAQ* (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Transident, Intersexual, Asexual, Agender, Genderqueer, Questioning) to the Queer Working Group.



Diversity management is doing very well in many areas at FAU. It has been sustainably integrated into the central structure of the University (see 2.1.1) and lively internal and external communication and networking structures have been established (see 2.1.4 and 2.1.5). In addition, a number of measures and projects have been introduced in the areas of diversity that we have chosen to focus on since the diversity audit (see 3.2).

At the same time, FAU is aware of the challenges regarding diversity and is already facing up to them, and intends to pursue them consistently in the coming years within the context of the development goals the University has set itself (see 3.1.).

As set out in the opening chapter, diversity management is an instrument for organizational development and human resources. It should be considered of relevance to the institution as a whole and treated accordingly.

Bearing this in mind, one of the aims that should shape our actions in the future is to take a more systematic approach to diversity as a cross-sectional task in the University’s central processes and strategies and to establish it as one of our leading principles. It should be incorporated, for example, into the University’s development plan, target agreements and strategic considerations on internationalization, research, teaching, publicity, human resources and management.

In addition to successful structural integration and implementation at the central level, it is necessary for diversity to become more integrated at the organizational level of the University. Specifically, steps ought to be taken to improve the institutional integration of diversity management at faculty and department level. As is the case with gender equality, it would make sense to assign tasks and responsibilities to people designated to work in this field, for example as diversity officers. They could make a significant contribution to the decentralized institutionalization of diversity management by taking the specific circumstances and requirements of the individual faculties or departments into account.

These steps are crucial if diversity is to become an integral part of the University as a whole and changes are to be made to central and decentralized structures and processes, leading to an academic and university culture that embraces diversity. Following the guiding principle of this concept and FAU as a whole, “shaping diversity with passion and innovation”, FAU will continue to pursue with determination its passion for a diverse and innovative university where everyone enjoys the same opportunities.