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Universities: Antisemitism

Question for Department for Education

UIN 59998, tabled on 16 January 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to tackle anti-Semitism and holocaust denial on university campuses.

Answered on

24 January 2017

This Government takes anti-Semitism extremely seriously. There is no place in our society - including within higher education – for hatred or any form of harassment, discrimination or racism, including anti-Semitism.

The Government has recently adopted the non-legally binding definition of anti-Semitism, to help clarify how anti-Semitism can manifest itself in the 21st century.

Universities have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students. The legal obligation for ensuring that students do not face discrimination, harassment, abuse or violence rests with individual institutions. Universities should have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, and to enable them to investigate and address swiftly any anti-Semitic incidents that are reported.

The Government asked Universities UK (UUK) to set up an Harassment Taskforce in 2015, to consider what more can be done to address harassment on campus, including on the basis of religion and belief. The Union of Jewish Students, Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Community Security Trust were part of its wider advisory group. The taskforce published its report: ‘Changing the Culture’, on 21 October 2016.

The Government has asked UUK to monitor progress. UUK plan to establish more baseline evidence, and to assess institutions’ progress in implementing the recommendations and report later this year.