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Discourses of inclusion and exclusion: Religious students in UK higher education

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Despite a decade of research into ‘inclusion’, religious students have been largely ignored within the widening participation and diversity literature. Researching religion and higher education (HE) in the UK, unlike within the US context, is seen as potentially risky territory. Where religion is discussed it is largely in relation to a discourse that problematises and demonises religion around ideas of religious fundamentalism – in particular within the Muslim community – or as formal and technical responses to equality legislation. Consequently, unlike considerations of class, race or gender, the widening participation literature has mostly ignored or racialised religious affiliation, and religion remains, for the most part, unrecognised within institutional policy making. Drawing on research with Christian, Sikh, Muslim and Jewish students, this paper highlights the ways in which such a tacit avoidance of the subject of religion on the ‘secular’ campus, punctuated only by the discourse of fundamentalism, results in the silencing and marginalisation of many religious students.
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Keywords: higher education; inclusion; religion; students

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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