Brandeis University of the United States has revised its non-discrimination policy to include caste alongside other types of identities that lead to inequality. The university described caste as a “system of inherited social class”.

Others forms of discrimination that the university protects its community from are race, colour, ancestry, religious creed, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, military or veteran status.

The institution, located in Massachusetts, said it was committed to providing its students, faculty and staff “an environment conducive to learning and working, where all people are treated with dignity and respect”.

The university claimed it knows of no other institutions of higher education in the United States that includes caste in their non-discrimination policies.

“Brandeis believes that since caste identity is so intertwined with many of the legally recognised and protected characteristics, discrimination based on a person’s caste is effectively the same,” the university’s president, Ron Liebowitz, said. “Going forward, the Office of Equal Opportunity will oversee issues and complaints of discrimination related to caste brought forward by members of the Brandeis community, just as it does for other types of discrimination.”