NUS report finds 1 in 3 Muslim students worried about Islamophobic abuse on campus
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday March 21 2018
A new report by the NUS has found that 1 in 3 Muslim students are worried about experiencing Islamophobic abuse on campus. Female students who wear religious garments were found to be especially worried about being targeted.
The report is based on the Muslim Students’ Survey launched in 2017 in collaboration with the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) and received 578 responses.
The survey found that 1 in 3 respondents had “experienced some type of abuse or crime at their place of study” with the vast majority (79%) believing that this was “motivated by prejudice relating to their Muslim identity”.
The report also found that Muslim students were uncertain of how effectively their educational institution would respond to incidents of Islamophobia. The report found that 1 in 4 of the respondents “did not believe their institution would respond appropriately” and 44% of sabbatical officers (sample size of 29) disagreed that NUS would “respond appropriately to allegations of Islamophobia”.
Speaking on the matter, one higher education student respondent said: “NUS Muslim representatives have faced disproportionate abuse over recent years and the NUS has not dealt with it adequately”.
The report also sought to understand the effect of the controversial Prevent strategy on the university experience of Muslim students.
The Prevent duty is a legal obligation, introduced by the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, requiring universities (amongst other public institutions) to have “due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism”.
The results found that 1 in 3 felt negatively affected by Prevent and 43% said they were unable to express their views completely or be themselves.
One respondent, a Masters student aged 22-23, said: “In lessons I found myself not speaking my true opinion because of fear of being misreported as a result, just for saying my opinion, and I worry that others will just comment”.
The NUS women’s officer, Ms Hareem Ghani, said: “We are deeply concerned about Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment within the education sector and society as a whole. Action must be taken immediately by institutions and students’ unions to safeguard Muslim students – especially women – against racism in or around campus”.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education has stated that: “There is no place in higher education for hatred or any form of discrimination or prejudice, and we expect providers to act swiftly to address hate crime, reported to them, including anti-Muslim incidents”.
The spokesperson added: “The Prevent duty builds on universities’ safeguarding responsibilities and aims to stop people being drawn into terrorism…It is not about shutting down free speech or spying on students and should not be used to discriminate against any particular group”.
The role of Prevent on university campuses recently came under attack at SOAS when it was discovered that the institution was being pressured into not just complying with the legal duties of Prevent but to go beyond them.
Prevent is seen by a significant number of students and staff members of SOAS as an infringement of freedom of expression and being perceived as heavily discriminatory against Muslim and other ethnic students.