Jo Johnson MP, Minister for Universities and Science, said yesterday that there is “no place in our society, including higher education, for bigotry, hatred and any form of racism such as anti-Semitism”.
The Minister’s comments came in response to a written Parliamentary question asked by Conservative MP Robert Jenrick.
The MP for Newark asked the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, “whether he has had discussions with university vice chancellors on the reported anti-Semitic incident at King’s College London on 19th January 2016; and whether any people have been prosecuted for their connection with that incident”.
Mr Johnson replied: “We expect universities to act swiftly to investigate and address any anti-Semitic incidents reported to them. Responsibility 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 in November, he “asked Universities UK to set up a task force to consider what more can be done to address harassment on campus, including on the basis of religion and belief. The Union of Jewish Students are part of the advisory group”.
He continued: “In relation to the event organised by the Kings College Israel Society, officials in my Department and in the Higher Education Funding Council for England asked Kings College what action they had taken in response, and I have met with the Principal to discuss this incident”.
Mr Johnson underlined: “It is completely unacceptable for legitimate free speech to be shut down on our universities campuses through intimidation and harassment and we will continue to fully support university leaders who take a strong stance on this”.