A directive from the Cambridge University authorities has asked its admission tutors not to greet Muslims and disabled people with routine handshakes. The warning cited respect to Muslim women and people with disabilities, it has been reported.
Some applicants are "culturally sensitive," and "suitable body language" is just as welcoming as traditional handshakes, the Daily Mail has quoted the university order as saying. The directive has already drawn widespread criticism within the university.
"Dons should read the situation properly and bear in mind that not all people will want to shake hands," the Daily Mail has quoted a Cambridge spokesman as saying.
Some tutors who deal with admissions found the move embarrassing as it made them feel the university had no confidence in their ability to judge such situations properly.
"While I am sure this advice is well-intentioned, academics are grown-ups and are intelligent enough to know when to shake a person's hand or not," Sally Hunt, the University College Union general secretary, told the Daily Mail.
"It seems to be totally bonkers. We know when to shake someone's hand and when not to. All this seems to be stupid and pointless and could make interviews even more awkward," a university insider, who wished to remain anonymous, told the paper.
Every year, the number of international students joining the university is increasing and the advice was considered inappropriate by the academics in view of the multicultural nature of the historic university.