MORE than 90 per cent of students in the UK have felt “valued and welcomed” at university on the grounds of religion or religious belief; but the few reported cases of religious discrimination on campus have been “significant”, a report from the Universities UK Task Force has concluded.
The report Changing the Culture, published by the Government last month, examined how violence against women, harassment, and hate crime have affected university students in recent years. Of of the 924 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the UK last year, 21 involved Jewish students, academics, or other student bodies, and 13 of these took place on campus.
The Task Force has met four times in the past 12 months to consider evidence from universities, the National Union of Students, and other organisations, including Rape Crisis, Tell MAMA, the Union of Jewish Students, and Stonewall.
Of the 1128 reports of anti-Muslim incidents received by the monitoring group Tell MAMA last year, about six per cent of all female victims, and 14 per cent of all male victims, were at an educational institution when the incident occurred, the report says.
It also draws on a study from 2011 in which about a quarter of Jewish respondents (20 students); 16 per cent of Sikh respondents (six students); and 14 per cent of Muslim respondents (50 students) said that they had felt discriminated against or harassed at university.
Of the few incidents that have occurred in recent years, the impact on the victims was “clearly distressing”, the report says, and reinforces “the importance of the implementation of robust policies and procedures, no matter how low the numbers”.
It also points to the rise in reported incidents of hate crime based on religion or religious belief after the result of the European Union referendum, in June (News, 1 July).