Reflections on Ramadan: supporting international students throughout a holy month

Students celebrating Ramadan

As Eid al-Fitr approaches, marking the end of the dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, we hear how some of our students and teachers have observed the Islamic holy month. 

Supporting practising international students 

For many international students, this year will be the first time they have observed Ramadan away from their families. Actively supporting students to practice their faith is an important part of fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion on campus and in their new communities. 

Monis, a student from Pakistan at the University of Huddersfield International Study Centre, has been making use of the brand-new Multi-Faith Centre on the University’s campus. Here’s what a day in his life looked like during Ramadan. 

“As an international student at Huddersfield International Study Centre, I am grateful for the support provided by the institution and its team during this holy month. The International Study Centre recognises the importance of Ramadan to its Muslim students and has taken steps to ensure that we are supported during this time,” Monis says, adding, “they have been understanding of our religious practices and have provided flexibility in terms of academic deadlines and schedules. I have been able to manage my studies alongside my religious observances without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.”  

The University of Huddersfield International Study Centre also organised Ramadan-related events that Monis says “provided a sense of community and belonging, especially for those of us who are far away from our families during this time.” 

With prayer rooms, ablution facilities and multi-faith spaces, Monis says that the More in Common Centre — the University of Huddersfield’s newly opened multi-faith centre — brings “students, staff and visitors of all faiths in a welcoming space right at the heart of campus.” 

At the University of Sheffield International College, students attended an academic talk on strategies to manage fasting while studying, including a guide to on-campus support. A prayer room was established to provide students with the necessary space to practise their faith, and an iftar where students exchanged knowledge, perspectives and recipes from different cultures, promoted diversity and inclusion.

At Teesside University International Study Centre, students also enjoyed an iftar. Shahwar from Pakistan says: “many students turned up and joined the gathering. The experience was wholesome and brought students from various countries and cultures at one place and allowed for socialisation as well.”  

Teaching during Ramadan 

At Durham University International Study Centre, where the Student Enrichment Programme has driven a 7% year-on-year increase in students feeling part of a community, biology tutor Qamreen, has plenty of experience and advice on supporting students during Ramadan.  

"I energise students to make sure they remain enthusiastic to learn by engaging them through lots of different activities - be it presentations, quizzes or practical experiences,” she says. "If students feel really tired, I give them the opportunity to go and get a five-minute break for fresh air. I also ask them if they want to wash their face and come back again to feel more refreshed and awake. Students have always appreciated that opportunity in lessons."  

Belonging is a core component of a positive student experience and, in turn, of academic success. This is particularly important for international students, who need to make new connections and for whom early integration into the local community delivers improved study experiences.  

Empowering students to celebrate their traditions and learn about their peers’ customs and festivities helps foster welcoming communities in which international students can adjust, settle and succeed as they pursue their global education goals. 

Learn more about our work supporting international students to participate and succeed in global education.