Higher education institutions are looking for evidence to help them develop new policies and practices to improve the student and staff experience. The Equality Act 2010 extended the protected characteristics to cover religion and belief, giving institutions a legal duty to also consider how the on-campus experience of people with a religion or belief may differ.
Little research has been conducted in this area, and ECU commissioned a study to provide a national evidence-base and to explore what issues there might be around religion and belief in higher education. Overall, 3077 staff and 3935 students responded to a survey as part of this study. Others took part in case-study work, focus groups and interviews.
The report presents a number of recommendations and identifies where the sector needs to undertake further work. It also poses reflective questions to enable individual institutions to interrogate and evaluate their current provision and approaches.
The report focuses on four themes:
Participation and access
- Data collection and consultation
- Teaching and learning
- Dietary matters
Prayer, worship, meditation and celebration
religious dress and symbols
Discrimination and harassment
- Level of discrimination and harassment
- Types of discrimination and harassment
- Institutional responses
- Interaction between members of religion or belief groups
- Tensions between different protected characteristics
- Freedom of speech
The report was researched and written by Professor Paul Weller of the Society, Religion and Belief Research Group, University of Derby, and Dr Tristram Hooley and Nicki Moore of the International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.
An executive summary is also available to download below.