Critical Race Theory and Islamophobia: challenging inequity in higher education

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This paper engages with a dominant model of Islamophobia which gives race and racism primacy. It argues that such an approach is parochial, conceptually narrow and practically ineffective. I take as my case the UK’s Muslim student awarding gap – Muslims are currently the worst performing religious group at UK universities. Existing work explains this problem in terms of racism/Islamophobia. These factors are correctly identified, but a lack of analytical precision around race and religion has led strategies to fall back on ‘standard’ and largely ineffective ideas. I argue that racial and religious disadvantage must be understood separately, though intersectionally, through Critical Race Theory and the concept of ‘religification’. Such an analysis sheds light on how institutional approaches to race and religion play a key role in the structuration and perpetuation of educational disadvantage for Muslim students. It also paves the way for more effective strategies for eradicating the awarding gap.


Original languageEnglish
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Early online date29 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2021


  • CRT, Islamophobia, awarding gap, higher education, muslim students, religification

ASJC Scopus subject areas