The Minister’s comments came in response to a written question from CFI Parliamentary Vice-Chairman, Andrew Percy MP, who asked “what steps he has taken to tackle anti-Semitism in English universities”.
In response, Mr Johnson said: “There is no place in our society, including higher education, for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry, hatred and racism”.
He continued: “We expect universities to act swiftly to investigate and address any anti-Semitic incidents reported to them. Responsibilities for ensuring students do not face harassment, abuse or violence rests with individual institutions, as a clear part of their duties under the 2010 Equality Act”.
The Minister said that “at the request of the Government, Universities UK have set up a taskforce to consider what more can be done to address harassment on campus, including on the basis of religion and belief. The taskforce has had meetings with or received evidence from a wide range of organisations which include the Union of Jewish Students, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Community Security Trust”.
He concluded: “The taskforce is expected to report its findings in the autumn but has already identified the need for an improved data collection of incidents by institutions, to ensure universities are recording incidents effectively; the importance of complaints procedures that protect the identity of students who may be fearful of coming forward; and the need for better training for staff to respond to instances of harassment”.