The guidance examines a full range of engagements with students, staff and beyond the campus in areas such as access, recruitment and civic responsibilities, providing detailed recommendations which institutions may wish to consider when looking at how they achieve equality of opportunity and inclusion for a diverse range of faiths and beliefs - and those of no belief.
The guidance revisits and consolidates our previous work on religious inclusion, including the ground-breaking research by the Equality Challenge Unit in 2011, Religion or belief in higher education: the experiences of staff and students (ECU 2011a), though many of those recommendations remain valid. The new guidance reflects societal change and a new policy landscape since 2011.
The guidance points to institutions placing a greater strategic focus on the inclusion of different beliefs to create an environment where ‘all students and staff feel safe to be themselves, and can respectfully explore differences of thought and practice.’
This timely piece supports UUK’s renewed call for the sector to further efforts to ensure support for all students, and take pride in being a global sector, welcoming for international staff and students.
Gary Loke, Advance HE Director of Knowledge, Insights, Innovation and Delivery, said, “The 2011 guidance drew attention to the fact that on the whole individuals in our sector did not feel discriminated against because of their beliefs. But it also highlighted areas in which institutions could keep improving. There is no doubt that institutions have worked hard to create more inclusive environments, but the dynamics continue to change, and that means there will always be a need to focus on inclusion and equality.
“The new guidance brings further insights in supporting that improvement work – particularly strategically, offering fresh case studies and examples of good practice. It also helps to steer institutions of their statutory obligations in equality. But it unequivocally does not seek to enter any debate about the role of religion as a whole in education nor the academic or research focus of institutions.”