Ghent University is an engaged and pluralistic university. We welcome students, staff and visitors with different religious beliefs. Ghent University has developed a policy on how to deal with religious matters within the educational setting.

Is it allowed to wear religious symbols at Ghent University?

It is allowed to wear religious symbols (e.g. clothing, jewelry,…). However, there might be restrictions due to legal and safety regulations in specific settings (e.g. in labs).

Is it allowed to be exempted from attending courses or to reschedule exams because of religious reasons?

Absence during compulsory courses or rescheduling exams is only possible when these take place on religious holidays of officially recognized faiths by the Belgian authorities. If you want to make use of this opportunity, you need to apply for the special student status (see below).

Which religious holidays are taken into account?    

Catholic, Protestant and Anglican holidays

Catholic, Protestant and Anglican holidays are already considered as public holidays. There will be no courses or exams scheduled on these days.

Islamic holidays

Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) (1 day, to choose out of 2 possible dates) and Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) (1 day, 70 days after Eid al-Fitr).

Jewish holidays

Jewish New Year/Rosj Hasjana (2 days), Jom Kippoer (1 day), Soekot (2 days), Sjemini Atseret (1 day), Simchat Thora (1 day), Poerim (1 day), Easter/Pesach (4 days) en Sjavoeot (2 days).

Orthodox holidays

Christmas, Easter Monday, Ascension Day and Whit Monday (4 days), in case these dates differ from Catholic/public holidays.


You apply for the special status for exceptional social or personal circumstances at the start of the academic year (before 15th of October). In the application you add a personal statement of honour about your religion.

  • What if you do not know at the start of the academic year if compulsory courses or exams will be scheduled on religious holidays?

If there is a chance that you cannot attend compulsory lessons or you will have to reschedule exams because they might be organised on religious holidays , you better apply for the special status. After being granted the special status, you can still decide whether you want to make use of the facilities.

  • What if your compulsory courses or exams are scheduled on a religious rest day?

The special status does not allow you to be absent during compulsory classes or to move exams when scheduled on weekly religious rest days (Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays for the religions officially recognized by the Belgian government).

  • Is it possible to reschedule exams in case you take part in the religious fasting?

The special status only provides you the opportunity to reschedule compulsory courses or exams when they happen on a religious holiday. When there is overlap with a religious fasting period, you can ask the lecturer to reschedule your exam (e.g. schedule the oral exam the earliest possible). However, it is just a lecturer’s favour, this cannot be considered as a right.

What if certain content or some parts of your courses are in conflict with your personal or religious beliefs? Can you be exempted from demonstrating this knowledge or skills?

When course content or required skills are in conflict with your personal or religious beliefs and these are part of the final course competences, you will have to demonstrate you have acquired the knowledge and skills in order to pass the course.

What if you are having difficulties to find a work placement for an internship because of your religious beliefs. What can I do?

Host organisations often have specific codes and work appointments with their employees. In many cases they also apply to internship students. This might be related to working hours, work clothing, sanitary rules, client service agreements etc. Also, companies and organisations might have their own diversity policy which might be different from Ghent University’s diversity and inclusion policy. Therefore, Ghent University cannot force host organisations to accept Ghent University’s policy. However, as an engaged university we have a sensitizing and mediating role to play towards host organisations.

Are you facing difficulties? Try to discuss it with your supervisor or your work place mentor. If this does not lead to a satisfying solution, you can contact the faculty or institutional ombuds offices.

Is it allowed to interrupt a course or exam for a prayer?

No, this is not allowed. Interrupting courses for a prayer might have a disturbing character (art. 47 education and examination code) and during exams it complicates supervision.

Are you facing other difficulties related to your religious beliefs?

Firstly, always try to discuss this with your lecturer or other persons concerned. If this does not lead to a satisfying solution, you can contact the faculty or institutional ombuds offices or the contact person below.


Diversity and Inclusion

Katrien De Bruyn
09/264 98 22