Oxford University has opened a dedicated prayer space exclusively for Muslim students and staff.
Opened by Oxford’s Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton on 9th October, the space is located in the Robert Hooke building. Its primary purpose is to provide a place of worship, but it will also be available to students and staff to hold discussion forums and social events.
OUSU unanimously passed a motion in support of a dedicated Islamic Prayer space in October 2011, and a spokesperson for Oxford University said that talks had been ongoing with the Oxford University Islamic Society for some time.
The University’s Equality and Diversity Mission Statement states that one of its main objectives is to “remove any barriers which might deter people of the highest potential and ability from applying to Oxford, either as staff or students”.
Islam generally requires members to pray five times a day, and prior to the opening of this new space, the only prayer spaces available in Oxford were in the Islamic Centre which closes at 5pm, or at mosques located in Cowley.
The new prayer space will be open 24 hours and has space for both male and female ablution. It will be jointly managed by the Oxford University Islamic society and the Oxford Estates Directorate.
Hamilton said at the opening: “Oxford is an international university – 34 per cent of our students (and 61 per cent of postgraduate students) and 40 per cent of academic staff are citizens of countries other than the UK. It is vital that we meet the needs of all those students who are of the Muslim faith, as well as the needs of home Muslim students.