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UUK re-examines position on gender segregation

Vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK has withdrawn a controversial case study that illustrates its policy recommendations on how universities should deal with requests from external guest speakers invited to their campuses, while it clarifies its position.

The move comes after a case study used in the organisation’s  guidelines, which said universities could consider accommodating requests for gender segregation under certain conditions, sparked an outcry from politicians and other groups. Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly told Channel 4 News that the group’s guidelines should not say that.

Writing on the UUK website on 13 December, chief executive Nicola Dandridge responded: “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.” She added that UUK was working with its lawyers and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to clarify its position. “Meanwhile,” she said, “the case study which triggered this debate has been withdrawn pending this review.”

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