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1. Introductory Statement

The University of York celebrates and values the diversity brought by its individual members and aims to create an environment where religious beliefs are welcomed and respected.

The Equality Act 2010 protects against discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief. This legislation also covers non-belief.

The University recognises the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The right to manifest beliefs is qualified by the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.

2. Policy Statement on Spiritual/Religious Issues

The University of York does not, as an institution, have any religious affiliation or endorse any particular denomination or faith.

The University recognises the commitment of individual students to pursue a spiritual or religious practice and actively supports their right to do so in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

The University further recognises that there is a variety of obligations placed upon those following particular faiths. Where practicable, the University will provide information and facilities and will seek to resolve clashes between compulsory academic activities and essential religious observances.

3. Academic freedom

The University supports the free exploration, discussion and critique of knowledge and ideas as activities which underpin its core purposes of promoting teaching, learning and research. It expects staff and students to undertake such activities in ways which acknowledge and respect all forms of religion, belief or non-belief.

4. Aims

The University of York seeks to ensure that:

  • where reasonably practicable, appropriate facilities and services (1) are provided to meet the religious needs of all students (2).
  • students are consulted about the appropriateness of services and facilities provided.

5. Definition

This Policy covers any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief but does not cover political belief (3) or cults. It also covers non-belief.

6. Student Admissions

The University undertakes to ensure admissions procedures are carried out consistently and fairly. Specifically, those administering the process must be aware of their obligation not to discriminate against applicants in relation to the terms on which offers are made, and the grounds on which applications are rejected.

7. Teaching, learning and assessment

  • The University seeks to ensure that teaching, learning and assessment are informed by an understanding of issues of equality and diversity in relation to religion, belief and non-belief.
  • It recognises that religious festivals, or other events of religious significance may coincide with assessment and timetabling requirements. As far as is reasonably practicable, the University will take steps to ensure that University examinations and major events do not coincide with obligatory religious observance.

8. Facilities and Services

The University will, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide facilities and services (4) that accommodate the obligations of those following particular faiths. All relevant staff will receive appropriate training and guidance in relation to religion, belief and non belief to carry out their responsibilities under this Policy.

9. Support for Students

The University will seek to provide support that is appropriate to the needs of students of different religious beliefs through the Student Support Services(5), supervisory system and college welfare teams. It will ensure that supervisors, both academic and personal, are aware of this Policy and that they support students in their right to equality of opportunity in relation to religion and belief.

10. Dress Code

The University of York imposes no dress code on its students, and welcomes the variety of appearance brought by individual styles and choices of dress. The wearing of items in accordance with particular religious beliefs and associated cultural practices(6) is seen as part of this welcome diversity. Exceptions to the above are detailed at the end of this Policy.

11. Religious Observance

a) The University will make reasonable efforts to provide suitable space for prayer, quiet contemplation and ablution where practical and will provide information about this provision.

b) The University will also provide information on places of worship, services and facilities, which are provided in the neighbourhood and region (7)

12. Food Requirements

  • The University undertakes to regularly assess the demand for food which meets religious or associated cultural dietary requirements, in consultation with the relevant religious groups, and will provide it accordingly in its catering and retail outlets.
  • The University will be sensitive to the needs of members of its community who do not consume alcohol and will provide alcohol-free catering and social spaces.

13. Harassment

a)Harassment (8) or bullying on the grounds of religion or belief and non-belief will not be tolerated and will be dealt with under the University Code of Practice on Harassment.

b) All members of the University community have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. However, if beliefs are promoted in a way that impinges on the rights and freedoms of others, this may result in disciplinary action. (Also see Paragraph 3).

14. Complaints

Students who wish to make a complaint under this Policy can seek help from the YUSU, the GSA, the ISA, their Academic Supervisor, Head of College or College Tutor. See the University's Complaints Procedure for dealing with complaints from students and student applicants.

15. Implementation and Responsibilities

The University seeks to ensure that, as far as is reasonably practicable, members of the University are informed of this Policy and any associated procedures. All members of the University are responsible for familiarising themselves with this Policy and its implementation.

Exceptions to Section 10 – Dress Code

a) In order to comply with Health and Safety requirements specific items of clothing such as overalls, protective clothing etc. may need to be worn. If such clothing is in conflict with a student’s religious belief, the issue will be referred to the academic supervisor, with the aim of finding a satisfactory outcome.

b) Where examination candidates need to be identified in relation to University assessment procedures, the verification of candidates will be carried out sensitively and by appropriate, trained staff (9)

c) The wearing of slogans or symbols which cause distress may constitute harassment (10) may be dealt with accordingly under the Code of Practice on Harassment.


(1) The word ‘services’ throughout this document refers to ‘facilities and services’ as opposed to ‘religious services’.

(2) As referred to in the University’s Race Equality Policy Section 5

(3) Political beliefs are covered by the Equality and Diversity Policy for students

(4) Including catering, accommodation, careers, sports, retail, conference and social facilities, the Information Centre, Library, the University Nursery and IT Support etc.

(5) Student Support Services including Disability Services, college welfare, the welfare aspects of the supervisory system, YUSU (York University Students’ Union), the GSA (Graduate Students’ Association), the ISA (International Students’ Association)

(6) For example the wearing of hijab, kippah, mangal sutra, sari, headwear and crucifix, jewellery / adornments.

(7) Information currently supplied by the University Chaplains.

(8) Definition in the University Code of Practice on Harassment “behaviour which is unwanted by the recipient and unwarranted by the working or study/social relationship and also would be regarded by such as any such similarly-situated reasonable person”.

(9) For example in the case of individuals wearing veils.

(10) Definition in the University Code of Pratice on Harassment behaviour which is unwanted by the recipient and unwarranted by the working or study/social relationship and also would be regarded by such as any such similarly-situated reasonable person.

Equality and Diversity Office

January 2011 (reviewed 2015)



University of York Equality and Diversity Office

Advice, support, guidance on equality and diversity issues for staff and students

Tel: (01904) 324680



Equality and Diversity Office website on Religion, belief and non-belief:

Contains information on/links to the following areas relating to religion, belief and non-belief including:

  • The Calendar of significant festivals
  • Legislation on religion and belief and non-belief
  • Guidance and good practice
  • Places of worship
  • Catering and food provision
  • Sources of information and guidance

Student Policy on religion and belief and non-belief

University Chaplaincy

Facilities for prayer and reflection

There are five facilities for prayer and reflection available on campus at the University of York - see:

Multifaith prayer rooms


Located in W/029 in Wentworth College, the prayer room is accessible 24 hours a day. It is designated as a multifaith facility.

To access the prayer room, take your student identification to Wentworth College reception where the porters will provide you with a key.

Ron Cooke Hub

Located on the second floor, this facility can be accessed at any time the building is open. Staff at reception in the Ron Cooke Hub building can provide directions.     

The Quiet Place

Between Derwent College and Heslington HallThe Quiet Place is a resource for all members of the University community for silence, quiet reflection or prayer.

There is a bookable upper room for groups to use and an enclosed garden and ground floor room for individuals.

Al Iman Islamic Prayer Room

Located on the ground floor of the Seebohm Rowntree Building in Alcuin College. A number code is required to access the room and the nearby washroom facilities. The code can be obtained from the Islamic Society.

More House Chapel

More House is the Catholic Chaplaincy for the University, located on Heslington Lane just to the South of the Heslington West campus. On the ground floor of More House, this simple prayerful Chapel is open from morning to evening every weekday of the main undergraduate terms and is available to students and staff of all faiths and none as a place of reflection and prayer.

World Faiths

Worship in York


Christian societies

Islamic society

Jewish society


ECU Research on Religion and Belief in Higher Education: the experiences of staff and students

Religious Observation - institutional timetabling and work patterns - ECU briefing.

Religion or belief in the workplace: a guide for employers and employees - Produced by ACAS

Promoting good campus relations – ECU guidance

Freedom of speech on campus - rights and responsibilities in UK Universities - Universities UK document


BBC Web pages on Religion


List of sources of support updated January 2016 by the

Equality & Diversity Office

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