Various work and internship locations are banning the wearing of religious symbols (such as kippahs, headscarves and crosses). This means some students are having trouble finding an internship. The Antwerp University Association (AUHA) would like to talk to companies and organisations and ask them if such a ban is really necessary.
In spite of our society being unmistakably diverse, it has come to the attention of the institutions that some internship locations are rejecting students for wearing personal religious or philosophical symbols. AUHA chair Jan van den Nieuwenhuijzen: ‘This way, these students don’t get the opportunity to prove their competences. Particularly in an Antwerp that is growing more and more diverse, this can cause friction: in the city of Antwerp, 57.3% of the 15- to 19-year olds are of non-European descent (Stad in cijfers, 2021).’
As a result, the availability of internships is decreasing, with some students unable to find one altogether. In some cases, this may even prevent them from completing their degree. This is not only demotivating to students, but also problematic to certain bottleneck occupations and sectors struggling with labour market shortages.
What’s more, the rejection of religious symbols can have a negative impact on a student’s sense of identity, and the resulting feeling of unease may also affect their academic performance.
This way, students don’t get the opportunity to prove their competences. Particularly in an Antwerp that is growing more and more diverse, this can cause friction.
The Antwerp association acknowledges that on the one hand, organisations may have good reason to regulate the wearing of personal religious or philosophical symbols. On the other hand, the right to wear such symbols should be the rule, and limiting said right should be the exception. That is why the higher education institutions would like to hold individual discussions with every partner and ask them if such a ban is really necessary.
Read the full statement (in Dutch) at www.auha.be/levensbeschouwelijk.