Universities: Antisemitism

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Leigh of Hurley Lord Leigh of Hurley Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government which universities have replied to the letter sent by the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation on 17 May asking them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of antisemitism.

Photo of Lord Leigh of Hurley Lord Leigh of Hurley Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take, if any, in respect of those universities which refuse to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of antisemitism.

Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

On 16 May 2019, the former Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Chris Skidmore), my hon. Friend for Kingswood, wrote to higher education providers on the importance of tackling antisemitism in universities. This letter urged them to consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and set out his view that, although legally non-binding, it is a useful tool which will help front-line services better understand and recognise instances of antisemitism.

This government believes that adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism sends a clear message that antisemitic behaviour will not be tolerated, and that any instances of antisemitism will be taken very seriously. It is for public bodies and agencies to implement the definition and embed it within operational guidance as relevant. As autonomous organisations, it is for each higher education provider to decide if and how they wish to implement the IHRA definition. The government will continue to call on providers to demonstrate their commitment to Jewish students on campus by adopting this definition in its entirety.

In this letter, the former Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Chris Skidmore), my hon. Friend for Kingswood, communicated to providers that the department would be keen to hear more regarding the initiatives taken by providers to address antisemitism and all forms of intolerance, harassment and hate-crime. The following institutions have so far responded to the letter: University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, University of Oxford, University of Worcester, SOAS University of London and University of Southampton.

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