“Restrictions on timetabling and availability of field centres means that occasionally field trip coincide with Ramadan or part of Ramadan.
Our university has a high percentage of Muslims students (40% or more) and the first year that this occurred 2019, prior to the trip we consulted all students in confidence then met those concerned about observing Ramadan safely during the trip. We made adjustments including having room in the field centre to pray and asking everyone to respect this space. On this trip Ramadan started on the final day and students observing Ramadan fasting were provided with a pre-dawn breakfast buffet and advised to keep hydrated and observe their health/that of others especially during the heat of the day. The most physically demanding aspects of field work were scheduled for the morning. We also delayed the start of the evening meal to coincide with Iftar (sunset) so we could eat together.
In 2020 we had two trips coinciding with Ramadan. Again we consulted then met all the students who wished to discuss practical adjustments for field work during Ramadan. We consulted the Iman at our spiritual centre and with his guidance adapted a Ramadan code of conduct (adapted for field work from one written for medical and health care placement students) and distributed this to all students after the briefing session for the field trips. Ultimately if fieldwork (or any other physical activity) is a required part of a course students are expected to take part but as organisers we should be sensitive to their needs and not assume Muslim students will not wish to fast (even though this is permitted when travelling or when sick/infirm etc) or simply not take part (sometimes an assumption of students and their parents). The field centres were extremely helpful and made adjustments for praying, meal times/arrangements, food choices and use of shared kitchens. Although the 2020 fieldtrips didn't go ahead (due to COVID) we learnt a lot about how to manage future residential and non-residential field trips. It also made me aware if the need to ensure students understand compulsory fieldwork requirements when they 1st arrive as well as briefing them well in advance of each planned trip, and the need to consider particular ethnic or religious needs.”