Government halts engagement with NUS over antisemitism allegations

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said she was ‘horrified’ by the claims and that antisemitism must be ‘stamped out’ .

13 May 2022

The Government is to suspend all engagement with the National Union of Students amid long-standing concerns about antisemitism in the body.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has order the NUS to be removed from all the Department for Education (DfE) departmental groups and replaced with alternative student representation.

She has requested the DfE’s arm’s-length bodies, such as the Office for Students, to take similar action and said that the NUS would receive no government funding.

Last month the union announced that it was opening itself up to an independent investigation following a wave of complaints by Jewish students.

However the DfE said these must lead to “substantive action” and the decision to disengage from the NUS will be kept under review “as the organisation demonstrates it has suitably addressed these issues”.

Ms Donelan said: “I am horrified by the thought of Jewish students feeling ostracised by an organisation which should be a voice for their community and an advocate of equality for all students.

“Although this was a decision that the department did not take lightly, we have been clear that antisemitism must be stamped out of the sector and are treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he was “seriously concerned” at the number of reports of alleged antisemitism linked to the NUS.

“Jewish students need to have confidence that this is a body that represents them, and we need to be sure that the student bodies that we engage with are speaking fairly for all students, which is why we are disengaging with the NUS until the issues have been addressed,” he said.

“From the NUS’s initial response to our concerns, I am confident that they are keen to take action and welcome further updates from them. Antisemitism has no place in our society and we will stamp it out, wherever it occurs.”

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