Summary of results Religion and Belief Survey

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1 Summary of results Religion and Belief Survey Introduction 2 2. Methodology 2 3. Response Rates 2 4. Religious belief and affiliation 3 5. Requirements for specific religions and beliefs 7 6. University provision 8 7. Attitudes towards multi-faith Conclusion 12 Appendix 13 Profile of respondents 13

2 1. Introduction There have been discussions within the University, including via the Student Ministry Forum and Multi-faith Conference Working Group, about how the University might respond to members religious requirements. Following the Oxford Multi-faith Conference: Exploration, Understanding and Worship, which took place on 21 April 2010, the Equality and Diversity Unit (EDU) undertook an online consultation on religion and belief. The aim was to obtain a better understanding of the religious and belief affiliations of students and staff, and of any differences in need. Religion and belief were defined as including non-religious as well as religious beliefs, in line with the Equality Act Methodology The survey questions were designed by the Multi-Faith Working Group and approved by Personnel Services. The survey was hosted online via the Bristol Online Survey system, and open from 15 November 2010 until 15 February The survey was open to all staff and students, with a link communicated via Departmental Administrators, Oxford University Student Union, Academic Administration Division Newsletter, Equality Networks and JCR and MCR electronic mailing lists. Under the Equality Act 2010 belief includes non-religious as well as religious beliefs. This follows equality and human rights law and related policy and practice Response Rates The total number of responses received was 1680, 33.1% from members of staff (4.8% of the University staff population), 27.9% from undergraduate students (4.0% of the undergraduate population) and 39.0% from postgraduate students (7.0% of the post-graduate population). staff in a college only 3.3% staff within the University 29.8% Student-undergraduate 27.9% Student-postgraduate 39.0% In terms of responses from staff the breakdown was as follows: Academic - teaching and research 21.8% Academic - research only 14.4% Administrative/library/IT 51.6% Clerical 3.9% Technical 2.1% Other 6.2% lease see the Appendix for further information on the diversity profile of respondents. 1 For further information regarding the Equality Act 2010 and universities duties please see: 2 Definition taken from Equality Challenge Unit research Religion and belief in higher education: the experience of staff and students August 2011.

3 4. Religious belief and affiliation The profile of the faiths represented in the survey is as follows: Christianity (all denominations): 43.0% Atheism: 31.5% Agnosticism: 9.5% Islam: 3.6% Other: 3.0% Judaism: 2.0% Hinduism: 1.9% Humanism: 1.6% Buddhism: 1.2% Sikhism: 1.0% Paganism: 0.8% Jainism: 0.4% *Baha'i: 0.1% *Rastafarianism: 0.1% *Zoroastrianism/Parsi: 0.1% * For these groups there was a very low number of respondents. Under the category of Other the main belief listed was none with the emphasis on no belief system at all, separate to Agnosticism or Atheism. Other religions listed were Wiccan and Zen. Almost half of respondents (46%) said they regularly practised their religion or belief, while just over half (54%) considered themselves to be spiritual. Of those saying they were spiritual, 64.3% were from Christian denominations, followed by Atheists at 6.9% and Agnostics at 6.5%. In a national survey of religion and belief in higher education, conducted by the Equality Challenge Unit, 45.2% of respondents said they were Christian, 33.8% Atheist and 6.4% Muslim: although the numbers are small, the proportion of Muslim respondents at Oxford appears to be significantly lower. The breakdown of those practising their faith is given in Table 1 below. The groups most likely to practise their faith are Jains and Baha is (although the number of respondents from both these groups was small), Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

4 Table 1: Number of respondents who regularly practise their religion or belief and their affiliation Do you regularly practise your religion/belief? Religion/Belief Yes No Total number from faith/belief group Agnosticism Atheism Baha'i Buddhism Christianity (all denominations) Hinduism Humanism Islam Jainism Judaism Paganism Rastafarianism Sikhism Zoroastrianism/Parsi Other Total Table 2 provides information about respondents religion/belief/faith, broken down by staff and student category. Overall, Christianity, Atheism and Agnosticism are the most widely represented religions or beliefs. On the staff side, Rastafarianism, Paganism, Judaism and Buddhism are small in terms of numbers, but there is significant representation. Amongst students, in particular graduate students, there is more religious diversity, with a larger proportion of Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Sikh respondents: this is likely to reflect the high proportion of overseas graduate students (see Table 5 below).

5 Table 2: Number of respondents: their religion or belief, their affiliation and area within the University If any, what religion/faith/belief do you associate yourself with most? staff in a college only staff within the University Studentundergraduate Studentpostgraduate Totals Agnosticism Atheism Baha'i Buddhism Christianity (all denominations) Hinduism Humanism Islam Jainism Judaism Paganism Rastafarianism Sikhism Zoroastrianism/Parsi Other Totals

6 Table 3 shows the distribution between staff and students who regularly practise their religion and/or exercise their beliefs and those who do not. There is a fairly equal split in all groups, except among members of University staff, where approximately a third fewer respondents say that they regularly practise their religion or belief. Table 3a : Staff and student breakdown and the practising of a religion/belief (numbers) Do you regularly practise your religion/belief staff in a college only staff within the University Studentundergraduate Studentpostgraduate Totals Yes No Totals Table 3b : Staff and student breakdown and the practising of a religion/belief (percentages) Do you regularly practise your religion/belief staff in a college only (%) staff within the University (%) Studentundergraduate (%) Studentpostgraduate (%) Yes No Total (%) Table 4 :Gender breakdown in terms of practising religion Table 4 shows the split between men and women who practise their faith or exercise their belief. 51.8% of respondents were women and 48.2% men. For both groups, there was the same split between those who stated they practised their faith and those who do not. Do you regularly practise your religion/belief Female Male Totals Yes No Totals

7 Table 5: Nationality breakdown and area within the University Table 5 shows the breakdown of respondents by nationality: the largest number of international respondents are postgraduate students, and the fewest members of college staff. Nationality staff in a college only staff within the University Studentundergraduate Studentpostgraduate Totals UK/British EU or European Economic Area International (outside EU or EEA) Totals Requirements for specific religions and beliefs The survey aimed to ascertain if particular religions and belief systems have specific requirements; 35.2% of respondents said they do, while 63.6% do not. The specific requirements are shown below: respondents were able to select all requirements relevant to their faith or belief. Number of responses Celebrating festivals 303 Daily prayers 250 Fulfilling prayers in a particular location (e.g. Church, Synagogue or Temple) 242 Fasting 231 Weekly prayers 197 Religious leader(s) to lead prayers/for spiritual needs 174 Weekly Sabbath 172 Abiding by a specific diet (e.g. Kosher, Halal, Vegan, etc) 158 Other Abstaining from work at certain times of the year 116 Prayer groups 98 Particular dress requirements 68 Abiding by certain hygiene rules (e.g. Wudu or use of a Mikvah 4 ) 67 3 The other requirements cited were a relationship with God, confession, belief in Jesus Christ and not believing in God 4 Wudu is the Islamic ablutions practice prior to the five daily prayers. Mikvah is a ritual purification bath taken by Jews on certain occasions, as before the Sabbath or after menstruation. For more information see

8 Following festivals, which are of significance to all groups, daily prayers and fulfilling prayers in a particular location were the most important requirements. One third (34.3%) of respondents said they were more likely to practise their religion during major festival times, for example Christmas for Christians, Ramadan for Muslims or Diwali for Hindus. 6. University Provision 84.0% of respondents felt that the University did provide adequately for their needs, with a significant minority of 16.0% stating the University did not provide adequately for their needs. The breakdown of responses according to religion can be seen in Figure 1 and Table 6. Note that the sum of the three largest belief groups (Christianity, Atheism and Agnosticism) equals 84.0%, with the sum of other religions totalling 16.0%. Figure 1: Satisfaction rates by religion according to religious provision The main areas of dissatisfaction can be summarised as: the lack of available spaces for worship and prayer the lack of meeting spaces for festivals and religious gatherings, in addition to prayer spaces colleges not being able to meet dietary requirements promoting greater understanding of a wider variety of faiths. Table 6 below shows satisfaction by religion, minus the three largest respondent groups: the gap between satisfied and dissatisfied respondents narrows and the satisfaction rate is significantly reduced: 42.1% of respondents outside the three main groups do not feel the University provides adequately for their needs.

9 Table 6: Satisfaction in numbers by religion (without three largest respondent groups) according to religious provision Do you feel the University provides adequately for your religious needs? Religion Yes No Totals Baha'i Buddhism Hinduism Humanism Islam Jainism Judaism Paganism Rastafarianism Sikhism Zoroastrianism/Parsi Other Total numbers The group least satisfied with University provision were Muslims, 72% of whom felt their needs were not being met. The main cause of dissatisfaction, for both staff and students, was the lack of a dedicated space available in departments, colleges or libraries for daily prayers, which must be adhered to five times a day. Jewish respondents wanted more consideration to be given to religious diversity and festival dates, including the Jewish festival schedule, which at times made scheduling of tutorials difficult. Pork forming a major part of the hall diet was also problematic. Some respondents suggested that those who are seen as having a responsibility for religious well-being (i.e. college Chaplains) should be strongly encouraged to attend a course covering the major beliefs and practices in religions other than Anglican Christianity. For Sikh respondents the main issue was a lack of available space for non-christian faiths to gather in a quiet setting, which would allow practice of meditation or group prayer. This is a common requirement for many Eastern religions. Additionally it was noted that there was no support for the Sikh students society, however this was not clarified further. Around half of Hindu respondents cited the lack of temples in Oxford as a major problem for their religious and spiritual needs. Jain respondents felt similarly to Hindu respondents in respect of the lack of worship spaces. It was also felt that often Jainism is lost in the background and there is very little awareness of the religion in general. It was suggested that it would be a positive step to have occasional talks/seminars from prominent Jain people. Diet was a key theme for Jain respondents, who follow a vegan diet at all times. Jain respondents also found the welfare in college, centred around chapel, often isolating as well as unfair that many colleges supply rooms, food, and financial backing to celebrate Christian services,

10 whilst Jain respondents had to find available rooms of adequate size for all events, as well as a college that enables them to bring their own food, as colleges cannot cater for their dietary needs. Within the Eastern religions, Buddhists would welcome a quiet and secluded room for meditation. Respondents wanted a list of quiet/prayer/spiritual places within the University accessible to staff and students, as well as a Buddhist Chaplain to serve the needs of the Buddhist community. Finally, Buddhist respondents would like more prominent advertising of mindfulness and meditation courses across the University as a whole, that could be attended by Buddhists and other interested parties who use meditation practices to support good mental health and wellbeing. Pagan respondents had a mixed approach to their needs and what they would like the University to do. In addition to raising awareness of Paganism as an indigenous religion of the UK, half the respondents said they would like a contemplation space, preferably a garden/natural courtyard where people could take a few minutes to be calm and reflect as part of their busy day/university demands. The remaining 50% of Pagan respondents felt that that their religion is not an area that the University should be involved with. A small percentage (6.0%) of Christian respondents said that there was a distinct lack of provision for Orthodox Christians, Lutherans, and Evangelical Christians. In particular, Orthodox Christians felt that, as Easter is not celebrated at the same time each year, it is frustrating to miss Church services during Holy Week as the dates may fall on working days. The same applies to those Orthodox Christians who observe the Russian-style calendar and celebrate Christmas on a different date. Being able to find suitable food (i.e. a vegan option) during the major fasting periods of the Orthodox Church is a significant challenge. Finally, respondents would welcome a room/space for private prayer where they can meet to pray or discuss religious topics. Respondents were asked whether they would feel more feel more comfortable practising their religion if increased religious provision were to be provided centrally : Yes: 10.7% No: 26.4% Don't know: 14.8% Not applicable: 48.2% The faith breakdown of these respondents is summarised in Table 7 below. Responses to this question were open to interpretation in terms of the concept of centrally located. On further analysis it was clear that respondents favoured a central space managed by the University and located within the heart of Oxford in close proximity to most colleges and departments. However, it is likely that there would also need to be additional provision for staff or students based in Headington. Having a central space is particularly important to Muslim, Christian and Hindu respondents, who said that they would feel more comfortable practising their religion, if a central space were to be made available. One fifth (20.0%) of the respondents seeking central provision were Muslim, who stressed that a prayer room would need to be available throughout the working day with access at evenings and weekends, as well as a space large enough for Friday prayers. Hindus would prefer to use a space on specific occasions as opposed to at a set daily time. Christians would access a space mainly during weekends, but also on weekdays during their lunch hour: it is not clear why local churches are not meeting this perceived need.

11 Table 7:Responses by religion/belief regarding central provision If there were increased religious provision to be provided centrally would you feel more comfortable in practising your religion? If any, what religion/faith/belief do you associate yourself with most? Yes No Don't know Not applicable Totals Agnosticism Atheism Baha'i Buddhism Christianity (all denominations) Hinduism Humanism Islam Jainism Judaism Paganism Rastafarianism Sikhism Zoroastrianism/Parsi Other Totals Table 8 below shows the responses by staff and student category. Almost half of respondents (48.2%) say that a central space would not be applicable.

12 Table 8: If increased religious provision were provided centrally, would you feel more comfortable in practising your religion as a staff member or student? Are you a member of staff or a student? staff in a college only staff within the University Yes No Don't know Not applicable Totals Student-undergraduate Student-postgraduate Totals Attitudes towards multi-faith The survey aimed to find out if members of the University would value a multi-faith or contemplation space, which could potentially be used by all members of the University. 38.3% of respondents said that they would value a facility like this and 61.7% of members said they would not like to see this. Finally, 47.8% of respondents said they would like to see the University provide a multi-faith chaplaincy, where chaplains from a variety of faiths would be based, whereas 52.2% of respondents said they would not. Further research would be required to establish what functions a multi-faith chaplaincy would fulfil. From the survey, respondents seem more positive regarding prayer space, as oppose to spiritual leadership. 8. Conclusion The survey demonstrated that in general the University is meeting the majority of members needs, both staff and students. There are however key issues for particular faiths that could be addressed, such as space for prayer and contemplation for a number of religion and belief groups, as well as colleges meeting students dietary needs. The wish for the University to provide a multi-faith space needs seems to be strongest among postgraduate and undergraduate students from the Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu faiths. There is now a working group in place exploring options for Muslim prayer space in the short and medium term.

13 Appendix Profile of respondents The percentage of female respondents was 51.8%, compared to 44.7% of the student population and 50.0% of the staff population for The breakdown of other diversity areas was as follows: Nationality UK/British: 67.9% Other EC: 14.8% Other: 17.4% Age Profile: 18-25: 49.2% 26-30: 15.5% 31-35: 9.3% 36-40: 6.1% 41-45: 5.2% 46-50: 4.3% 51-55: 3.8% 56+: 6.6% Ethnic origins were as follows: Asian or Asian British Bangladeshi: 0.1% Asian or Asian British Indian: 3.8% Asian or Asian British Pakistani: 1.1% Any other Asian background: 0.9% Black or Black British African: 1.2% Black or Black British Caribbean: 0.5% Any other Black background: 0.2% British Chinese: 0.2% Chinese: 1.1% Mixed: White and Black Caribbean: 0.1% Mixed: White and Black African: 0.1% Mixed: White and Asian: 1.4% Any other mixed background: 1.1% Other ethnic group: 0.2% White British: 54.8% White Irish: 2.7% Any other White background: 24.8% Decline to specify: 4.6% Other : 2.1% LJO/LJO

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