Education Secretary holds summit on tackling antisemitism in Higher Education as incidents spike

Urgent action is required to stop antisemitic abuse on campuses, the Education Secretary has said ahead of a summit he is hosting with vice chancellors, university reps and Jewish rights groups today.

The antisemitism summit, being held by Nadhim Zahawi ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January), will look at the incidents of antisemitism on campus and discuss measures and commitments that can be taken to ensure Jewish students and staff feel safe in higher education.

This could include working with the Community Security Trust (CST) to improve data reporting from universities to help build a better picture of this issue and sharing cases of best practice. Alongside these discussions, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) will run a training workshop for attendees about how to improve support for Jewish students who have been victims of antisemitism.

The summit builds upon the Department for Education’s ongoing commitment to work with Higher Education providers in England to acknowledge and eradicate antisemitism.

Figures published by The Times last year showed there were 111 antisemitic incidents recorded at British universities in the 2020/21 academic year – a rise of 59 per cent on the previous academic year.

To officially recognise the issue of discrimination towards Jewish people within the sector, last year the Department for Education called upon more Higher Education providers to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

Following these calls, as of November 2021, more than triple the number of universities have signed up to this definition – up to 95 from 28. Research from Union of Jewish Students showed that this represented a significant increase of 67 universities when compared to figures from September 2020.