The Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University said he wants to create alcohol free areas out of “cultural sensitivity” to Muslim students.

About a third of the university’s students are from Muslim backgrounds. Many of them come from traditional homes where alcohol is forbidden.

Prof Malcolm Gillies, a prominent Australian music scholar, laid out the plans during a discussion on how to accommodate minorities as part of a national conference of university officials earlier in the month.

Prof Gillies said that while he drinks himself, he was “not a great fan” of alcohol on campus and felt that the practice could be seen to be “playing to particular parts of or society”.

He said: “It’s a negative experience – in fact an immoral experience – for a high percentage of our students.

“There are students who do come from a tradition that says alcohol is evil and they need to feel that they have a place at London Metropolitan University.

“They don’t have to feel that this is an alcoholic environment, we are an educational environment, we are not seeking to push particular cultural or gastronomic values, we meet the needs of our students as they actually are.”

Mr Gillies pointed to that fact that there were already a number of pubs within 200 metres of the campus. “I can’t see there is such a pressing reason to be cross-subsidising a student activity which is essentially the selling of alcohol,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor stated that, contrary to popular belief, his experience was that many Muslim students are more conservative in their beliefs than a generation ago.


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