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Strategically important subjects: Islamic studies

The Government designated Islamic studies a strategically important subject in June 2007. We are developing a programme of work to support this field and note the analysis and recommendations in the report, Islam at Universities in England submitted by Dr Attaulah Siddiqui to the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education.

The HEFCE Board endorsed this programme in September 2007 and the Board was updated on the progress of the programme in July 2008 (see board paper B76, agenda item 22). The HEFCE Board approved a further paper outlining a proposed way forward in September (see board paper B93, agenda item 15). We are working with the Higher Education Academy and Joint Information Systems Committee to take these proposals forward.


We are using two events to inform our programme of work:

  • a seminar, held in November 2007, focused on the issues affecting Islamic studies in UK higher education (HE) and was attended by a range of academics, who provided insight into the current status and future prospects of the subject. A short report of the seminar is available below.
  • a conference on 17 April in London built on the outcomes of the November 2007 seminar. This conference will set the scene for the UK-wide advancement of Islamic studies in the coming years. David Eastwood, HEFCE Chief Executive, provided a keynote address. We issued a circular letter (Circular letter 03/2008) with further information about the conference.

Seminar report on 'Islamic studies: current status and future prospects', November 2007

[ MS Word 144K | Zipped MS Word 33K | Adobe PDF 96K | Zipped Adobe PDF 76K ]

Seminar report on 'Islamic studies: the way forward in the UK', April 2008

[ MS Word 128K | Zipped MS Word 64K | Adobe PDF 111K | Zipped Adobe PDF 104K ]

Desk-based report

We commissioned a desk-based report, 'International approaches to Islamic studies in higher education', which considers the academic approach of selected countries (including the UK) to the study of Islamic studies in higher education. The report found that Islamic studies has increased in prominence in the eight countries surveyed. This has led to:

  • efforts to incorporate aspects of the training of local Muslim leaders, including imams, into higher education programmes
  • the development of inter- and trans-regional centres for the study of Islam and Muslims
  • the development of modules related to Islamic studies that can be integrated into wider, and unrelated, programmes of study.

These findings will help HEFCE in the shaping of possible options for support for Islamic studies in the UK.

Trends and profiles report

HEFCE has produced a report which analyses the trends and profiles of Islamic studies provision in UK HE (HEFCE 2008/09).

The report summarises the characteristics of Islamic studies provision within the UK between 2002-03 and 2005-06 based on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and the National Student Survey. It is intended to consolidate and inform the development of policy.

Sector impact assessment

In developing our programme of work on Islamic studies, we have formally assessed its impact on the HE sector in terms of regulatory burden, equality and diversity, and sustainable development.

Sector impact assessment of Islamic studies

[ MS Word 110K | Zipped MS Word 15K | Adobe PDF 32K | Zipped Adobe PDF 22K ]

Further information

For more information on our approach to Islamic studies, e-mail or call Natasha Mulvihill on 0117 931 7028.

Last updated 27 October 2008