The Union of Jewish Students welcomed the report, which it said provided “productive and encouraging” recommendations to tackle anti-Semitism across UK campuses.
The report details the need for better reporting of anti-Semitism and stronger support by academic institutions for Jewish students to speak out.
It says that although there have been a “relatively low number of reported incidents, Jewish community leaders have raised concerns with UUK about anti-Semitism on campus”.
It identifies “a number of ongoing issues and occasions where Jewish students feel hostility on campus”. It says “there is a concern that students are not coming forward” to report hate, and that “universities do not always strike the right balance between ensuring freedom of speech and academic freedom, and respect for Jewish students”.
The report cites the Community Security Trust’s Antisemitic Incident Report 2015, claiming that out of the 924 anti-Semitic incidents for that year, the victims in 21 cases were related to the Jewish student community.
The Universities UK report follows incidents in which pro-Israel and Jewish students have faced violent harassment and abuse on university campuses. In January, an event hosted jointly by the Israel societies of King’s College London (KCL) and London School of Economics (LSE) was disrupted by violent demonstrators at KCL. The protesters, many of whom were part of KCL’s Action Palestine society, smashed a window and intimidated students attending the event.
Police were called to the event which was forced to shut down early. In August, an anti-Israel protester who disrupted the event was found guilty of assault by beating.
Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP, at the time condemned the violence: “Britain and Israel share many important academic links and speakers must be able to address meetings peacefully. Our universities should be safe spaces for students to expand their minds, and there can be no justification for violent intimidation that curtails free speech”.
He 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”.
The taskforce consisted of university leaders, student representatives and academic experts.