Universities must do more to stamp out antisemitism on campus following reports of unfair practices that could amount to indirect discrimination, the Universities Minister has said today (17 May).
Chris Skidmore has urged the sector to advance its efforts to tackle unacceptable religious hatred in higher education and is calling on all universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The Jewish Leadership Council, Union of Jewish Students and Community Security Trust have raised reports of unfair practices in which Jewish societies have been asked to pay up to £2,000 for their own security at speaker events on campus, which the Universities Minister is concerned may amount to indirect discrimination.
Mr Skidmore met with students yesterday (Thursday 16 May) to hear about their concerns and experiences of antisemitism on campus. In a letter being sent to universities this week, the Minister is calling on all institutions to reject such prejudiced practices, challenging institutions to step up and tackle antisemitism.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:
There is no place in our society for hatred or any form of harassment and it is frankly appalling that the battle against antisemitism still exists.
Free speech is vital to the independence and innovation that embodies the higher education sector and it must be protected. Not only does it fuel academic thought, but it contributes to a collective feeling of tolerance and acceptance in our universities that challenge injustice.
In this context, it is unacceptable to oblige certain groups of students to incur additional costs because of their race or religion, just to counteract the actions of others.
Institutions like King’s College London are already displaying leadership in this area but I expect our universities, as vehicles of change, to show moral leadership and accept the IHRA definition of antisemitism which shows that an institution and its senior leaders are serious about ensuring their campuses are tolerant environments where ideas and debate can flourish but persecution can never take hold.
Universities have a responsibility to ensure students do not face discrimination, harassment or victimisation of any kind and provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students.