Universities: Antisemitism

Department for Education written question – answered at on 3 January 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Deech Baroness Deech Crossbench

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the responses by the University and College Union and relevant university authorities to complaints by students of anti-Semitism and violence perpetrated by fellow students and staff.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

The department is deeply concerned about the growth in antisemitic incidents on campus since the 7 October terrorist attacks against Israel and this government takes antisemitism extremely seriously. Departmental officials have assessed evidence of antisemitism and racial hatred linked to incidents at English universities. There is an online "Reporting Extremism" page from where members of the public can raise concerns to the department directly. Where concerns have arisen, officials have reached out to relevant universities to understand what actions they have taken, including reporting issues to the police where appropriate.

The department is also concerned to see antisemitic motions being passed at some universities. The department urges universities to crack down on inflammatory, politically motivated displays of support for a proscribed terrorist organisation, and on demonstrations which make Jewish staff and students feel unsafe.

My right hon. Friend, The Secretary of State for Education and my right hon. Friend, the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education (HE), wrote to all schools, colleges and universities on 11 October, urging them to respond swiftly to hate-related incidents and actively reassure Jewish students that they can study without fear of harassment or intimidation. Minister Halfon wrote again to Vice Chancellors on 16 November, further emphasising the use of disciplinary measures and the importance of police engagement, as well as the suspension of student visas where the student is a foreign national and requested that the universities review its policies and procedures to ensure that they remain fit for purpose at this challenging time. This was one of the key actions set out in the five-point plan for tackling antisemitism in HE, which was published on 5 November. A link to more information can be found here: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2023/11/05/how-were-protecting-jewish-students-on-university-campuses/.

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