Lawyer­shelp­stu­dent avoidShab­ba­tex­ams

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A STU­DENT has been al­lowed to take one of his fi­nal exam pa­pers a day early to avoid sit­ting it on Shab­bat, af­ter lawyers in­ter­vened with his univer­sity.

Hert­ford­shire Univer­sity had ini­tially re­fused Joel Raivid, 21, a BSc psy­chol­ogy stu­dent from Edg­ware, Mid­dle­sex, per­mis­sion to sit the exam on the Fri­day be­fore its sched­uled Satur­day slot.

He was told he would have to wait un­til sev­eral weeks later and take it in the re-sit pe­riod in late June or early July.

But af­ter so­lic­i­tors Mish­con de Reya be­gan le­gal pro­ceed­ings, the univer­sity agreed to make spe­cial ar­range­ments for him.

Mr Raivid said the sit­u­a­tion had been re­solved only nine days be­fore he ac­tu­ally sat the pa­per a fort­night ago. “I am pleased it was sorted out,” he said. “When it was com­ing near the exam and it didn’t look like I’d be able to take it, it was be­com­ing very stress­ful.”

An­thony Julius, from Mish­con de Reya, said: “The only rea­son that Joel found it dif­fi­cult to sit the exam as sched­uled was be­cause he is an ob­ser­vant Jew. Un­der the Em­ploy­ment Equal­ity Reg­u­la­tions 2003 and the Race Re­la­tions Act 1976, the univer­sity’s orig­i­nal de­ci­sion to make him sit the exam dur­ing the re-sit pe­riod was dis­crim­i­na­tory.

“Sched­ul­ing the exam on a Satur­day put Joel and other Ortho­dox Jews at a par­tic­u­lar dis­ad­van­tage when com­pared with other stu­dents.”

Af­ter sit­ting the exam on Fri­day, Mr Raivid was chap­er­oned by Rabbi Gavin Broder, the Lon­don re­gion stu­dent chap­lain, and spent Shab­bat at the rabbi’s Gold­ers Green home to en­sure that he had no con­tact with other stu­dents.

Mr Raivid is now plan­ning to do a mas­ter’s de­gree in oc­cu­pa­tional psy­chol­ogy — al­though he has re­jected a place to pur­sue it at Hert­ford­shire.

A spokesman for Hert­ford­shire Univer­sity said it “has 30,000 exam sit­tings at the end of the aca­demic year, so it is im­por­tant that this process is man­aged ef­fec­tively.

“We are con­tin­u­ally seek­ing best prac­tice and our re­search sug­gests that chap­er­on­ing in­di­vid­ual stu­dents overnight is not com­mon prac­tice in the sec­tor. How­ever, we made the de­ci­sion to ac­com­mo­date his needs in the way re­quested, fol­low­ing ex­pert ad­vice. The univer­sity is con­tin­u­ally re­view­ing exam prac­tices and pro­ce­dures to bet­ter serve our stu­dents.”

Mr Julius com­mented: “By fail­ing to ac­com­mo­date the re­li­gious be­liefs of stu­dents, univer­si­ties will dis­cour­age peo­ple with closely held re­li­gious be­liefs from en­ter­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion in Bri­tain. In a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety, it should be of great con­cern to us that those of faith in­creas­ingly feel that univer­sity is not ‘for them’.

“Anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion leg­is­la­tion and the con­se­quent shift in at­ti­tude have done much to pre­vent dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place. It is now time for those in ed­u­ca­tion to en­joy sim­i­lar pro­tec­tion.”

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