The largest trade union for Oxford University has passed a resolution which recognises 'caste' as a protected characteristic.

The University and College Union—representing more than 120,000 academics and support staff—approved the motion in its November meeting and will now work to support negotiations and discussions with Oxford University regarding an "anti-caste discrimination framework".

'Caste' refers to fixed and hereditary social groups in Hindu society, distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity.

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The Oxford South Asian Ambedkar Forum, which "strives to promote marginalised voices and discourses from South Asia" said: "Among other efforts we have undertaken over the last three years, this was a result of the conference in June 2023.

"We thank participants, organisers, and a large anti-caste community in India and UK for having been our fellow-travellers since 2021.

"We have a long way to go and we will."

Passing of the motion also means that UCU Oxford will now meet with the UCU Regional Forum to "discuss meaningful changes to anti-discriminatory guidance that includes 'caste' as a protected characteristic".

UCU protected characteristics include "age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation".

Caste discrimination is not expressly prohibited under UK equality legislation though the 2010 Equality Act, as amended, currently requires the government to introduce secondary legislation to make caste an aspect of race, making caste discrimination a form of race discrimination.