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Prime Minister to call on University Leaders to protect Jewish Students

Rishi Sunak

Vice Chancellors from some of the country’s leading universities will join forces with the government today (9 May) to discuss actions to address the rise in antisemitic abuse on campus and disruption to students’ learning.  

  • Vice Chancellors from some of the country’s leading universities will meet in No10 on Thursday to discuss efforts to tackle antisemitism on campus.
  • £500,000 funding boost for the University Jewish Chaplaincy Service to provide welfare services to Jewish students.
  • Meeting comes amidst violent protests on campuses in the USA and escalating antisemitic abuse towards Jewish students in the UK.

The Prime Minister, Education Secretary, Communities Secretary and Security Minister will call on university leaders to ensure a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitic abuse is adopted on all campuses.  

The government has made clear that debate and the open exchange of views in universities is essential, but that this can never tip over into hate speech, harassment or incitement of violence.  

The meeting will also help to inform upcoming government guidance on combatting antisemitism on campus. Meanwhile, the Office for Students (OfS) has committed to publishing the response to its consultation on a new condition of registration, which could give OfS the power to impose sanctions where there is clear evidence that universities are failing to take sufficient or appropriate action to tackle harassment, including antisemitic abuse. 

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced £7 million of extra support to tackle antisemitic abuse in educational settings. £500,000 of this will be dedicated to supporting the work of the University Jewish Chaplaincy, boosting support for Jewish students on campus.

The University Jewish Chaplaincy helps students deal with incidents of antisemitism and intimidation and currently supports over 8,500 students at over 100 universities in 13 regions.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:  

“Universities should be places of rigorous debate but also bastions of tolerance and respect for every member of their community. 

“A vocal minority on our campuses are disrupting the lives and studies of their fellow students and, in some cases, propagating outright harassment and antisemitic abuse. That has to stop”. 

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said:

“I have made it absolutely clear that universities must crack down on antisemitic abuse and ensure that protests do not unduly disrupt university life.

“I am looking welcoming vice chancellors to No10 today to make sure together we have clear steps in place to protect Jewish students on campus.” 

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) have criticised the “toxic environment” faced by Jewish students across the country. According to the Communities Security Trust, there was an increase of 203% in university-related antisemitic incidents between 2022 and 2023.    

Ministers will make clear that universities must take immediate disciplinary action if any student is found to be inciting racial hatred or violence – and contact the police where they believe a criminal act has been committed.  

The Education Secretary wrote to Vice Chancellors on Sunday setting out government expectations in respect of the support being provided to Jewish students.  

Representatives from the Union of Jewish Students will also attend the roundtable to share their experiences and perspective.   

The PM and Education Secretary will invite Vice Chancellors to share best practice and lessons learned and seek views on how government can continue to support them in this area.  

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