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Educational fight

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2008-05-22

Joel Raivid

Joel Raivid

An orthodox Jewish student has won a battle with The University of Hertfordshire which finally allowed him to not take a final exam on Shabbat.

Joel Raivid, a Third Year Psychology student at the University of Hertfordshire was initially told the date of the exam could not be changed but after a legal appeal by top law firm Mishcon de Reya, Raivid was allowed to sit the exam on a Friday.

Initially, Raivid suggested that he sat the exam a day early and to be chaperoned by a rabbi until the other students sat their exam, but the University turned down that request.

It suggested that he could take the exam on a later date when other students who failed the first time would re-sit it.

Finding the suggestion unacceptable, Mishcon de Reya got involved in the issue.

"The only reason that Joel found it difficult to sit the exam as scheduled was because he is an observant Orthodox Jew," said Anthony Julius from the law firm. "Under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 and the Race Relations Act 1976, the University's original decision to make Joel sit the exam during the re-sit period was discriminatory."

Julius added: "Scheduling the exam on a Saturday put Joel and other Orthodox Jews at a particular disadvantage when compared with other students.  Also, the University's decision could not be justified by reference to the minimal impact that taking Joel's religious beliefs into consideration would have on its examination timetable."

According to Julius, academic discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed in a similar way to work discrimination. "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."

The University of Hertfordshire did not respond to a request for a comment on the issue.