Muslim Students Have a Lower Chance of Being Awarded Top Class Degrees18 Mar 2020
Research has shown that Muslim students in the UK are less likely to receive top class degrees compared to students from other religious backgrounds. It was found that the attainment gap between Muslim students and students of other faiths increased as the number of Muslims studying at a university fell. Muslims attending universities who make up only 3% of students saw the worst outcomes compared with their peers, including those in Russell Group universities.
The research was based on figures collected from over two million British university students. It found that 65% of students who identified as Muslim were awarded first and upper second class undergraduate degrees, compared with over 76% of all other students. It also found that the performance of students who are Muslim was correlated with the number of Muslim staff at an institution. For instance, for every additional percentage point of Muslim staff, the attainment gap between Muslims and non-Muslims dropped by more than by two percentage points.
The attainment gap was also large among those who had gained a first class honour. For example, according to the research, only 18% of Muslim students were awarded the top degree classification, which is lower than students of other religious groups, as well as the 30% of students who gained a first and did not follow a religion. It is also interesting to note that Hindu and Sikh students were less likely to gain a first class in their chosen degree.
It is suggested that differences in students’ experiences and backgrounds, as well as the differences in treatment from other students and staff, and the “barriers specifically associated with religious observation” could play a role in explaining the attainment gap.
Previous research also found that the perceptions of other students, staff, Islamophobia and a lack of religious understanding contributed to the negative experiences of Muslim students.
The Muslim Students Survey launched in 2017 found that a third of British Muslim students have experienced crime or abuse at their institutions, with most students believing that these acts were motivated by Islamophobia.
With the rise of Islamophobia, British Muslim students attending universities are likely to face difficulties in attaining top degree grades. Given these reports, more needs to be done by the government to tackle Islamophobia within educational institutions.