BULLYING and harassment because of religion is "alive and well"
in further-education colleges in the UK, new research suggests.
The Skills Funding Agency commissioned Babcock Research to
survey students in adult education, to find out how their religion
or belief affected their experiences of learning.
They found that one in ten of the respondents had been bullied
or harassed for their religious or other beliefs. Those with
non-religious beliefs experienced the same amount of harassment.
Just under half of them had reported the bullying to their
More than half of those who said that they had a religious
belief were Christian - 57 per cent; followed by Muslim - 26 per
cent; and Hindus - four per cent.
"It appears that the motivations for bullying and harassment lie
in the perception of difference, and in competing and opposing
beliefs," the report said.
Researchers suggested that problems occurred when accommodation
was made for certain groups. This could lead to others feeling
marginalised or excluded. "Before trying to accommodate a
particular group's perceived or stated need, it may be worthwhile
consulting the wider learner community. Consultation will ensure
that no learner feels totally excluded, including those with 'no
Some religious groups were less tolerant than others, the survey
suggested. "A small minority, some with religious beliefs (and in
our small qualitative sample, particularly Christians), were less
likely to compromise their beliefs to accommodate others."
The Skills Funding Agency is holding a series of seminars in
January to address the questions highlighted by the survey.
There was also some positive feedback, as the majority of
learners rated their experience of their college as "welcoming".
Researchers said: "Those learners with visible signs of belief, and
those who are open in class, are more likely to report a positive
experience, such as being invited to be a student