Families do their homework on life at university


From securing kosher accommodation on campus to dealing with anti-Israel demonstrations, a student's transition from school to university can spark apprehension and worry - not least for their parents.

But more than 130 sixth- form pupils and their parents had their concerns eased on Tuesday at the UJIA and UJS annual university information evening.

The event, held at JW3 in north London, brought together a panel of leading communal figures who specialise in student life, made up of UJS president Hannah Brady; UJS finance and operations director Lindsay Davidson; director of operations at University Jewish Chaplaincy Suzy Richman; and CST public affairs officer Jonny Newton. UJIA's Anthony Ashworth-Steen acted as chair.

The panel answered questions from the floor, covering topics such as encouraging student activism on campus, ensuring students' security, and navigating through the frenzy of freshers week.

Ms Brady encouraged students to "really think about what kind of Jewish atmosphere you want - go on Facebook and find out what different Jewish societies are doing." Ms Richman assured families that student welfare was of prime importance.

"Our chaplains have significant training in dealing with issues like exam clashes over Shabbat," she said. "We encourage students to get in touch, and to fill out their extenuating circumstances forms early, at the beginning of term."

Attendees also met representatives from Israel gap-year organisation Masa Israel, and United Synagogue's youth division Tribe.

"I was worried after reading about recent anti-Israel incidents at King's College," said Hasmonean pupil Ben Rothstein after the event. "We know we might face issues like this, but this evening has been a good way to learn how to deal with them."

Gila Pearlman, from Hasmonean, added she was excited to "make decisions about being Jewish on my own. It's exciting to find out just how much is on offer."

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