UK Prime Minister calls on university leaders to take personal responsibility for the safety of Jewish students

Rishi Sunak has told university leaders to take “personal responsibility” for the safety of Jewish students amid a “growing rise of antisemitism on our campuses”.

The prime minister held a roundtable meeting in Downing Street with vice chancellors of leading universities as well as a Jewish student union.

Jewish students have said they face a “toxic” environment as a growing number of Pro-Palestine encampments are set up at universities in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has warned the rhetoric emanating from these encampments “is increasing in hostility” – and called on university leaders to do more to keep Jewish students safe.

At the meeting, the prime minister called on universities to “remain bastions of tolerance, where debate takes place with respect for others and where every student feels safe”, according to a readout released by Downing Street.

He said that he was looking to university leaders to take “personal responsibility for protecting Jewish students” and adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to incidents of antisemitism, as well as any other form of hatred, prejudice, or discrimination.

Representatives from the UJS described a “year like no other” for Jewish students, with a six-fold increase in the number of antisemitic incidents since the outbreak of the war on 7 October.

University leaders recognised this challenge and discussed the importance of properly enforcing disciplinary procedures against students found to be inciting hatred or violence, while respecting the legitimate right to protest, Downing Street said.

They also also raised support for interfaith networks, cooperation with the police and use of eviction orders, where students are in clear breach of university rules.


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