New survey shows antisemitism at all-time high at universities

CST, which carried about the research, said it should ‘ring alarm bells for the Higher Education sector’


Highlighted English word "anti semitism" and its definition in the dictionary.

Antisemitic incidents have reached an all-time high at UK universities according to new data which "should ring alarm bells for everyone in the Higher Education sector", the Community Security Trust has warned. 

Cases rose to 111 this academic year, compared to the 70 cases recorded during the previous 2019-2020 period. 

The 59 per cent jump represents the highest annual total ever recorded by the charity since it began collecting incident data in 2002, the CST said.

Almost all cases involved verbal, written or online abuse, though there was one alleged assault. 

A majority of cases (64) were reported in May, with all nine incidents recorded at the University of Oxford reported as the 11 day-war unfolded in Israel and Gaza.

In split first position in terms of the total number of incidents were the University of Bristol and the University of Warwick with 11 cases each.

Trailing behind, the University College London and the University of Birmingham had 10 and eight alleged incidents each.

Most allegations at Bristol were reported in February as the institution became engulfed in a row over comments about Jewish student societies made by Professor Prof David Miller, who has since been fired. 

A spokesperson for the CST said that “the fact that this record total coincided with the recent conflict in Israel and Gaza shows yet again that wherever extreme anti-Israel hate is found, anti-Jewish hatred surely follows.”

The CST also called on universities to ensure their “complaints processes are fit for purpose and that Jewish students get the necessary support when they suffer antisemitism.”

The Union of Jewish Students - itself reportedly targeted in eight of the incidents - called on universities to do more to combat anti-Jewish racism. 

It was “incredibly worrying to see how positive and active Jewish student life is being tainted by the growth of anti-Jewish hatred across campuses in the UK,” a spokesperson said. 

“It is vital that institutions, student unions and the wider community are active in calling out anti-Jewish racism and take concrete steps to safeguard their Jewish students, for example adopting and using the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

All five universities were contacted for comment.

Professor Sasha Roseneil, UCL’s pro-provost of equity and inclusion, condemned antisemitism and said the institution was "deeply concerned by the CST figures and are committed to combatting antisemitism in all its forms."

A report on the forms of antisemitism experienced at UCL and on how to educate the community on the issue is expected shortly, she added.

A spokesman for the University of Warwick said this week that anyone found guilty of expressing antisemitic views faces expulsion or withdrawal from the institution. 

The university, an IHRA adoptee, said in its statement it did “not tolerate any form of discrimination. Antisemitism is abhorrent, and runs contrary to everything we stand for as a university.”

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said "harassment and discrimination of any kind, including on racial or religious grounds, are totally unacceptable at Oxford University and we have strong policies in place to guard against them. We would encourage anyone who experiences harassment or discrimination to report it to their college, department, or the police."

The University of Birmingham formally adopted IHRA last year.  Around 1.3 per cent of its student population identifed as Jewish this academic year. 

A spokesman said it was committed to creating an environment free from harassment and discrimination, was "of course concerned by any reports of antisemitism or discrimination of any kind and are clear that anybody found to be discriminating in any way will face disciplinary actions as appropriate."

He added: “Alongside other community groups, we meet regularly with the local branch of the CST to work together on plans to strengthen student safety and would encourage anyone who feels they have been the victim of discrimination to report that to the University so that support can be given and issues addressed."

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