The British Parliament’s “Taskforce on Antisemitism in Higher Education” published a new report on Monday looking at Jewish student and staff experiences at UK universities.
The taskforce was established last year by Lord John Mann, the UK government’s independent adviser on antisemitism and a Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Advisory Board member, with the backing of members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.
The report’s main findings and recommendations included:
– that implementing and embedding the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism into all processes is essential for building trust between Jewish students and staff and their institutions.
– the level of religious provision for Jewish students and staff is fundamental to whether Jewish students attend their universities and feel fully welcomed. There must be better conformity across the sector for reasonable adjustments for religious students and staff.
– and university complaints procedures must be reviewed to ensure that they are robust, transparent, and impartial, and to increase student and staff confidence in these processes.
The report was the result of meetings taskforce members held with more than 50 higher education institutions, Jewish students, and other stakeholders over the past year.
“This report is a vital piece of research that will help both guide universities and support Jewish students and staff on campus” Lord Mann said. “It evidences how allowing free speech on campuses and protecting Jewish students against antisemitism do not contradict each other if universities have clear definitions, good systems and have included Jewish students and staff in creating a safe space on campus.”
“Creating a positive environment for Jewish students and indeed all students is the essence of what universities should be about and this report is unambiguous in showing good practices,” he added. “We have chosen not to embarrass those universities who have failed to deliver for their Jewish students and staff and I will been keeping a close eye on which universities choose to improve their systems.”
MP Nicola Richards and MP Catherine McKinnell — co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism — stated, “Our campuses should be places of exploration, education, and investigation; a place to challenge and be challenged. Too often, they have been a breeding ground for anti-Jewish racism. The report we publish today shows some of the excellent practices taking place on UK campuses, but also the frightening experiences to which Jewish students and staff have been subjected. Our hope is that Higher Education providers across the country will heed our recommendations and put in place the good practice that we have seen to make campuses more accepting and better places to work and study.”
Rt Hon Dame MP Margaret Hodge commented, “It was good to see a positive picture emerge from our review, with so many active Jewish societies flourishing in so many universities. However, one case of antisemitism is one too many, and we came across some egregious cases that were shocking. There are plenty of examples across the sector of excellent practice on which all universities must build, so that we can be certain that antisemitism will not be tolerated anywhere in higher education. Every Jewish student and every Jewish academic should feel confident that they will not encounter any form of antisemitism in their university.”
Joel Rosen — president of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) — noted, “This report makes clear the importance of listening to Jewish students and their elected representatives such as Jsocs and UJS when combating antisemitism. The report details the complex picture across fifty six campuses and offers deliverable recommendations which, if implemented, will have a tangible impact on Jewish students’ experience of university. It is essential reading for universities and student unions across the sector. Jewish students are grateful to the taskforce for their diligence and considerable efforts.”