edingburgh princes park on a sunny day

Diversity in Edinburgh

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CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location.
The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email inclusion@ciee.org. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location.
No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues.



Scots tend to be reserved when it comes to commenting on body size and image, considering it impolite to make direct remarks about others. Like in many Western countries, unhealthy diets and obesity are issues in lower socio-economic groups in Scotland. However, the government has been actively promoting healthy living, starting from primary school. There's a growing trend of people incorporating exercise into their daily lives, with Edinburgh experiencing a thriving gym and fitness culture, especially among young individuals who are increasingly focused on achieving strong, toned bodies. Additionally, there's a positive body image movement working towards offering a more balanced perspective on women's bodies, moving away from the notion that thin is the only definition of beauty. Tattoos are also popular across Scotland.



Scotland has rapidly and effectively adapted to the diverse needs of every member of society, providing support for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Neuroatypical students' needs are accommodated without hesitation, demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity and support.



The discourse on gender identity and expression has been ongoing in Scotland for several years. In December 2022, the Scottish Parliament passed a Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. However, in January 2023, the Westminster government blocked its enactment. The proposed changes include lowering the legal age for gender change in Scotland from 18 to 16, eliminating the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and reducing the time for those over 18 to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months. The bill has sparked considerable political and social debate in both the UK and Scotland. Despite challenges, the current government remains committed to pursuing its enactment.



Some American students may be eager to explore their Scottish heritage and feel a strong connection to Scotland. While Scots can sometimes be dismissive if someone claims to be 'Scottish' with heritage a few generations removed, they are generally friendly and take pride in their country. Scots are usually open to conversations about history and heritage, and many businesses in Scotland, especially in the tartan industry, are more than willing to assist heritage seekers in connecting with their tartan and clan.



While Edinburgh is predominantly white, it has a diverse population, with individuals of South Asian and Eastern European descent well integrated into the city. Like any city in the UK, isolated incidents of racism may occur, but they are generally not tolerated and would be disapproved of by the broader population.



The multiculturalism of the UK fosters a welcoming environment for people of other faiths. Our students will find it easy to locate a place of worship and seek support to attend religious ceremonies and prayers. There is also acceptance for those with different spiritual beliefs and humanists. All Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK are obligated to accept and respect all religions, promoting an inclusive and diverse atmosphere.



In Edinburgh, all genders and orientations are fully accepted. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, and the majority of people feel comfortable openly expressing their sexual orientation. The city boasts numerous communities that welcome individuals of all different sexual orientations, contributing to a diverse and inclusive environment.



Edinburgh is considered a moderately priced city compared to London. While some places may inflate prices due to year-round tourism, students often benefit from discounts on transportation and other purchases, with many stores offering student discounts. For more information, students can refer to this resource: https://www.studentinformation.gov.scot/students/saving-money/student-discounts.

For grocery shopping, Aldi, Lidl, Farmfoods, and Iceland are among the more affordable options, while Waitrose, Sainsbury's, and Marks and Spencer are on the pricier side. Many museums and galleries in Edinburgh and across Scotland are free to visit, providing students with cost-effective cultural experiences.



The UK Supreme Court has rejected the X gender marker as a definition for UK passports. However, no ruling has been issued regarding the validity of X gender marker passports at UK Border Control. Despite this, US passports continue to be accepted without a change in procedure. The term "non-binary," preferred in the UK, is widely accepted, and gender-neutral facilities and inclusion policies are commonly found, reflecting a commitment to inclusivity.

Programs in Edinburgh