Bristol University Christian Union also made it clear that women will only be able to teach as principal speakers at away weekends and during its mission weeks if they do so with a husband.

Coming just a fortnight after the Church of England's General Synod voted against allowing women to become bishops, the stance of the Christian union has caused consternation at the university.

The students' union said it took allegations of discrimination very seriously and would be investigating to make sure its equality policy was adhered to.

At the centre of the controversy is an email from the president of BUCU, Matt Oliver, that sets out when women are allowed to teach.

The email says: "We understand that this [women teaching] is a difficult issue for some and so decided that women would not teach on their own at our CU:Equip meetings [its principal weekly meeting], as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away or as our main speaker for mission weeks."

It says a husband and wife can teach at the latter two events and adds: "This means that women are able to teach (including on their own) in any other CU setting.

The story made headlines in the Bristol student papers. The Tab reported: Christian Union Decide Women Should Be Seen Not Heard.