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Universities: Antisemitism

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL1444, tabled on 21 July 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of reports of increasing anti-Semitism in the UK, whether they will consult university Vice-Chancellors about what action they can take on the decision of the National Union of Students (NUS) to prevent the Union of Jewish Students from recommending a representative on the NUS Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascist Task Force.

Answered on

3 August 2016

There is no place in our society for bigotry, hatred or any form of racism such as anti-Semitism.

Higher Education Institutions are committed to challenging intolerance on campus. They have a clear responsibility under the 2010 Equality Act to provide a safe and inclusive environment.

Student clubs, societies and associations, with a membership of over 25, are covered by the applicable requirements of the Equality Act 2010. This means they cannot discriminate, harass or victimise protected groups, as an employer, or in the provision of goods services and facilities, or as members or guests.

We would expect all bodies representing students in English universities to be clear that there is no place for anti-Semitism in higher education. They should be doing everything they can to tackle anti-Semitism as they would all forms of racism.

In response to growing concerns over hate crime Universities UK have established a Harassment Taskforce to consider further measures to address harassment on campus including religion and belief. Government has asked the UUK Taskforce to consider a number of specific actions in relation to anti-Semitism:

  • The need for an improved data collection of incidents by institution, to ensure Universities are recording incidents effectively;

  • The importance of a complaints process that protects the identity of students who are fearful of coming forward;

  • The need for better training to help University staff understand the different forms anti-Semitism can take.

The taskforce will provide a range of recommendations and actions in its report to ministers in the autumn.