UK Government Cuts Ties With National Union of Students Due to AntisemitismConcerns

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News May 16, 2022

United Kingdom

The UK government will temporarily disengage with the National Union of Students (NUS) due to antisemitism concerns, the Department of Education has notified.

The Minister for Higher and Further Education, Michelle Donelan, said that she was horrified that Jewish students might feel ostracised by an organization that is supposed to be the voice for its community and an advocate for equality for all students, Erudera reports.

“Whilst our door is not closed to the NUS, our message could not be simpler. We need decisive and effective action in response to these repeated allegations of antisemitic behaviour. We are glad that the NUS has started to respond and are ready to work with them again when sufficient action has been taken,” Donelan said.

The move comes after the Community Security Trust (CST), a British charity aiming to protect the Jewish community in the UK from antisemitism and related threats, reported that the number of antisemitic incidents on campuses is same as before the pandemic, BBC reports.

According to CST, antisemitic incidents increased from 25 last year to 45 this academic year.

In a media release, the Department of Education notes that NUS will be removed from all Department’s groups and will be replaced with other student representation to make sure that each student’s views are respected in discussions related to higher education.

The Department of Education announced that it is asking arm’s length bodies, including the Office for Students, to take similar action. It has also confirmed that the government will no longer provide funding to NUS.

The press release notes that Donelan has written to Civica, the electoral body that had oversight of the NUS election for the NUS President, asking the latter for more details about the electoral process.

“The allegations of antisemitism, which have been well-documented and span several years, have prompted a feeling of insecurity amongst Jewish students across the country and a worry systemic antisemitism within the organisation is not being properly addressed,” the press adds.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has also expressed concerns about the alleged antisemitism linked to the union. Nevertheless, he said he is confident that NUS will take action, and that further updates from them will be welcomed soon.  

“Antisemitism has no place in our society and we will stamp it out, wherever it occurs,” Zahawi said.

Despite NUS’s willingness to respond to the government’s concerns, including beginning a process of independent investigation, the department says that this must “lead to substantive action,” and that the decision to cut ties with the NUS will be kept under review as the latter proves that it has addressed these issues.

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