EXCLUSIVE: Minister orders summit to stamp out hate on campus

Move follows report on record antisemitism at Britain’s universities


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 05: British Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi speaks during the "Together for Tomorrow" event on day six of the Cop 26 Summit at the SEC on November 05, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Today COP26 will focus on elevating the voice of young people and demonstrating the critical role of public empowerment and education in climate action. The 2021 climate summit in Glasgow is the 26th "Conference of the Parties" and represents a gathering of all the countries signed on to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement. The aim of this year's conference is to commit countries to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has ordered a summit on campus antisemitism, the JC can reveal.

It comes in the wake of a report showing a record rise in Jew-hate at universities, as well as the targeting of the Israeli Ambassador by a hate mob outside the London School of Economics last week.

The gathering of representatives from the Union of Jewish Students, Universities UK, the National Union of Students and the regulatory body the Office for Students will be hosted by Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, and will examine what can be done to make Jewish students feel safe.

It will also ask why the introduction of the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism, drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), has not led to a drop in cases of anti-Jewish racism.

The move comes after the Community Security Trust (CST) reported a surge in antisemitic incidents on campus, which jumped by a shocking 59 per cent in the last 12 months.

Mr Zahawi said: “Only last week I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and that experience has left me even more determined to completely root out the evil of antisemitism from our campuses.

“We intend to bring together key stakeholders from the sector to examine what more can be done to make Jewish students and staff feel safe on campus.

“The Office for Students last week published a list of colleges and universities that have already adopted the IHRA definition and I was pleased to say that considerable progress has been made since last year. If universities do not take action against this worrying rise in antisemitic incidents, I will ask the OfS to explore whether action can be taken.”

According to figures published this week by the CST, antisemitic incidents on campus jumped by 59 per cent this academic year to 111 cases, an all-time high.

The CST said the rise should “ring alarm bells for everyone in the higher education sector”.

University regulators the Office for Students (OfS) last week published new figures which showed a three-fold increase in universities adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism in the last 12 months.

The OfS said 95 universities had signed up to IHRA – a sharp increase on the figures reported by the Union of Jewish Students in September, 2020, which showed take up by just 28.

However ten universities were not named by the OFS as adopting IHRA: Brighton, Buckingham, Leeds Beckett, Norwich University of the Arts, AECC University College, Falmouth, Kingston, Ravensbourne, Northampton and the University of Creative Arts in London.

Chris Millward, director of fair access and participation at the OfS, said increase in take-up was a “testament to the excellent campaigning work by groups of Jewish students”

And he warned the OfS would consider “further action” if remaining universities did not meet expectations to combat antisemitism this academic year.

He said: “It is essential that universities and colleges act swiftly and decisively in response to any acts of antisemitism so that students are safe, and feel safe, on campus.”

In October, 2020, former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warned Vice Chancellors that funding could be cut for universities that failed to adopt the IHRA definition.

The JC contacted the universities yet to take up IHRA. All condemned antisemitism and said they had strong policies in place to combat all forms of racism.

The CST said most incidents on campus were verbal, written or online abuse, with just one alleged assault. The majority of cases, (64) occurred during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Gaza in May.

Bristol University, which recently sacked controversial academic David Miller, and Warwick, had the highest number of cases, followed by University College London and Birmingham.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said it was “encouraging” to see so many universities had adopted IHRA over the year but there was “more work to do to end the scourge of antisemitism on our campuses”.


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