Appendix H - Religion and Belief

H1          Definition of ‘religion or belief’

H1.1   Under the Equality Act 2010, references to religion and belief include any religious or philosophical belief, or lack of religion or belief. 

H1.2   The Human Rights Act 1998 provides freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to manifest religion or belief.  The freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief is not an absolute right, but is qualified, in that it may be interfered with if there is a threat to public order or safety, health or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others.  Any interference must be lawful and proportionate.

H2          Supporting Infrastructure

H2.1   The Religion & Belief Equality Group remit includes supporting and advising the University on its legal obligations, promoting cultural change, considering implications of external good practice and overseeing the implementation and further development, as necessary, of policies and practices relating to the protected characteristic of religion or belief.  The group consults with relevant stakeholders as appropriate.  It reports to The Equality and Diversity Strategy Committee.

H2.2   The Chaplaincy provides spiritual support and facilities for staff and students of all faiths and none.  The University is strongly committed to interfaith working.

H2.3   There are a number of faith-based student societies – a current list is available via the Students Representative Council. 

H3          Faith and reflection facilities

H3.1   The University Chapel is located in the West Quadrangle, Gilmorehill Campus, and is open to people of all religions and belief and non-belief for prayers, reflection and meditation.

H3.2   The Interfaith Chaplaincy provides an inter-faith room on the basement floor for prayers or quiet contemplation.  This can be used by students and staff and can be booked via Chaplaincy staff.  Further dedicated space is provided on level 9 of the Library, and at the School of Veterinary Medicine (Garscube Campus).

H3.3   The Interfaith Chaplaincy also provides storage facilities and aids for worship in support of the various faith societies.

H3.4   The Interfaith Chaplaincy facilities are enhanced by other faith provisions within walking distance of the main University campus, including the Catholic Chaplaincy based at Turnbull Hall, a Mosque on Oakfield Avenue and the Wellington Church on University Avenue.  A full list of facilities is available from the Chaplaincy website.

H4       Code of Practice for implementing the Equality and Diversity Policy with respect to Religion and Belief.

H4.1       Religious observance

H4.1.1      The University of Glasgow will make all reasonable efforts to provide suitable accommodation for prayer and religious observance, or quiet contemplation where practical.

H4.1.2      All staff, regardless of their religion and belief, are required to work in accordance with their contract.  There is likely to be some flexibility over how the hours are worked whilst still meeting service/business needs.  Heads of School/Line Managers should make every attempt to ensure that those whose religion requires them to pray at certain times during the day are enabled to do so through agreed flexible working arrangements.  In addition, similar effort should be made to accommodate requests from those who require, for example, an extra hour for midday prayer on Friday, or not to work beyond sunset on Friday, or (in the case of staff whose normal contracted hours of work would include weekend working) at the weekends in ways which conflict with their religious beliefs.  Similar requests from students should also be considered sympathetically.

H4.2       Leave for religious festivals and extended leave

H4.2.1      In the UK some public holidays coincide with Christian religious festivals and holiday arrangements.  In the interests of equality, those practising religions other than Christianity may request annual leave entitlement on dates most significant to them.  These days should be agreed with the Head of School/Line Manager before timetables or assessment dates are drawn up.  Requests for holiday entitlement to be taken at times of religious significance, the dates of which are uncertain in some religions (e.g. based on the lunar calendar) will be treated sympathetically.  The number of annual leave days overall will remain as in the contract of employment for staff of any religious belief or none.

H4.2.2      Staff may request occasional extended leave associated with religious or cultural needs.  Line Managers should attempt to accommodate requests for extended leave for the purpose of, for example, going on pilgrimage.  If the extended leave exceeds annual holiday entitlement, the excess days will be counted as unpaid leave.

H4.2.3      If unclear, advice should be sought from the Equality and Diversity Unit or Human Resources Service.

H4.3       Assessments, Examinations, Interviews and Placements 

H4.3.1      The University expects every student to take full responsibility for their academic work and progress, including class/placement attendance, assessed assignments and examinations.

H4.3.2      However, the University recognises that there are circumstances where students may require to be absent, including religious observance, where the nature of the observance prevents attendance at a class or classes.

H4.3.3      Heads of School, Directors of Services, Registry and Examination Officers should consider the main religious festivals when drawing up assessment, examination and interview dates (for student admissions and staff appointments).

H4.3.4      Reasonable requests from students for extensions to assessment submission deadlines to accommodate religious observance should be considered sympathetically, but only if requests are received as soon as the deadlines are announced.

H4.3.5      Consideration in examination timetabling requirements will be given to requests from students whose religious observance may result in absence on certain week days or at weekends, or at other times for specific religious festivals, but only if such requests are made early around the time of class enrolment and within 3 weeks of the start of the semester.  Later requests, especially if made after examination timetables have been published, may not be granted.

H4.3.6      Similar considerations as in H3.3.5 would be given to students on placements.

H4.4       Dietary Requirements

H4.4.1      The University of Glasgow is committed to providing specific dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, vegan).  Questions about, or suggestions for extending, the scope of the provision should be sent to Hospitality Services.

H4.4.2      Hospitality Services maintain contact with appropriate external suppliers who can cater for specific dietary requirements.

H4.5       Dress Code

H4.5.1      The University does not operate an overarching dress code for staff and students, except for uniformed staff (such as janitorial, security and hospitality staff), and those staff and students required to wear protective clothing, for example in laboratories and workshops.  Local arrangements regarding appropriate standards of dress (particularly in service areas) may apply.

H4.5.2      Students on placement visits may be required to follow particular dress codes, for example dental and medical students on placement in the National Health Service (NHS).

H4.5.3      The wearing of religious and cultural dress, including clerical collars, headscarves, turbans and kipa (skull cap) is allowed and must not be discouraged.  The exception to this is where the health, safety and welfare of the person is compromised by the wearing of such dress, or whether this is likely to enhance the risk to other persons, or where communication is hindered.

H4.5.4      Students wearing face-coverings (e.g. niqab or burqa) may be required to remove these for the purposes of identification prior to the start of an examination.  The University will ensure that such requests are made sensitively and that provision is made for the face-covering to be removed in private, in the presence of a female member of staff only.

H4.5.5      The following points should be noted:

  • Some religions and cultures determine a certain mode of dress.  For example, the wearing of compulsory items such as the Kara (bangle) by Sikh men and women.
  • Wearing of clothes displaying offensive material, in any language, or which are in some other way offensive and may breach national law (for example, sectarian or racist slogans) will be considered a breach of the Equality and Diversity Policy and other University policies and regulations. 
  • Where necessary, the Equality and Diversity Unit may be contacted to assist with disseminating appropriate information explaining cultural dress and customs.  Advice relating to protective clothing may be sought from the University’s Safety and Environmental Protection Services.

H5          Further information and contacts(35)

H5.1       On Campus

University Religion and Belief Equality Champion

University Interfaith Chaplaincy
Chapel Corridor (South)
West Quadrangle
Main Building
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141 330 5419

Religion and Belief Guide:

Faith and reflection facilities on campus and around Glasgow:

University Hospitality Services
1A The Square
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel:  0141 330 6177

Safety and Environmental Protection Services
University of Glasgow
Pearce Lodge
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel:  0141 330 5562

H5.2       External

Interfaith Scotland
532 Shields Road

(35) Please also see section 10 of the policy.