Universities UK withdraws rules on gender segregation

Universities UK guidance had been labelled as the “legitimisation of sex apartheid”

Education Editor

Controversial guidelines approving the seperation of men and women at certain events at universities are being reviewed after criticism from the Prime Minister

The representative body Universities UK has said it was withdrawing a specific case study referring to external speakers from “ultra-orthodox religious groups” who could request that men and women are separated at events they speak at.

It is now reviewing its stance, after both David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove criticised UUK’s guidance - with Gove describing them as a "pander to extremism".

A spokesperson said that Mr Cameron “doesn't think that guest speakers should be able to address segregated audiences and he thinks that Universities UK should urgently review its guidance.”

The guidance was issued in November, following a series of Islamic events where male and female students had been separated at university.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: "Universities UK agrees entirely with the prime minister that universities should not enforce gender segregation on audiences at the request of guest speakers. However, where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear. We are working with our lawyers and the EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] to clarify the position.”

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