Eight Muslim students and graduates are to take legal action against the University of Birmingham claiming religious discrimination.

The men said they were challenging a decision to annul an election in which 14 Muslim students were elected to act as delegates at National Union of Students (NUS) conferences.

They said the poll was later declared void amid "unspecified" allegations of voter fraud and intimidation and that the decision to pursue legal action was taken because the NUS had no right of appeal.

One of the students, Arafat Ben Hassine, said: "We had strongly urged the University to reverse its decision for the sake of fairness and clarity.

"We were the candidates duly elected by the students. Decisions should be based on hard evidence not malicious rumours."

Their action follows a recent report which claimed extremist organisations and terror groups were operating in universities across the UK, with the Islamist groups Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun (which was thought to have disbanded) active despite being subject to a "no-platform policy" by the NUS.

Just last week, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly told universities to clamp down on student extremism in the wake of the London terror attacks.

In a statement the University of Birmingham said it viewed the conduct of free and fair elections as a very serious matter.

It said: "Any allegations of racism or discrimination are unfounded and utterly refuted."

Mr Qureshi said legal papers would be served on the university next week.