Religion and Belief
The University's Integrated Equality Policy provides for an inclusive environment which 'promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected to assist them in reaching their full potential'. It also provides that no student or member of staff will be treated less favourably on grounds which include religion and belief.
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of religion or belief. The definitions of religion and belief under the Equality Act 2010 are:
- religion - any religion or reference to religion, including a reference to a lack of religion
- belief - any religious or philosophical belief or reference to belief, including a reference to a lack of belief
Religion or belief should be taken to mean the full diversity of religious and belief affiliations within the UK, including non-religious and philosophical beliefs such as atheism, agnosticism and humanism. For more information on the legislation in this area click here.
The Equality and Diversity Unit (EDU) undertook an online consultation from November 2010 to February 2011, following the Oxford Multi-faith Conference: Exploration, Understanding and Worship, which took place on 21 April 2010. The aim of the online survey was to obtain a better understanding of the religious and belief affiliations of students and staff, and of any differences in need.
The survey demonstrated that in general the University is meeting the majority of members’ needs, both staff and students. There are however key issues that could be addressed, such as space for prayer and contemplation for a number of religion and belief groups. The wish for the University to provide a multi-faith space seems to be strongest among postgraduate and undergraduate students from the Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu faiths.
A working group to examine the pressing issue of Muslim prayer space has been established. The group comprises Muslim staff and students, members from Student Services, EDU and Estates and is examining the feasibility of a prayer space for staff and students.
Religion and Belief Survey (252kb)