Free speech is vital to the independence and innovation that embodies higher education, but no student should face discrimination, harassment or racism, including anti-semitism. I am assured that the Government is committed to addressing anti-semitism wherever it occurs and I am encouraged that the UK became the first country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-semitism.
Like you, I agree with Ministers having called on all higher education institutions to accept the IHRA working definition of anti-semitism, which is a tool to help front-line services better understand and recognise instances of anti-semitism. I believe this would send a clear message that antisemitic behaviour will not be tolerated and will be taken seriously by higher education providers.
All universities and higher education institutions have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment and have a responsibility to ensure students do not face discrimination, harassment, abuse or violence. Universities are expected to have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, and to investigate and swiftly address any hate crime and anti-semitic incidents that are reported.
I am encouraged that progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of the Universities UK Taskforce which considered how harassment, hate crime and religious intolerance can be combatted on campus. Indeed, I welcome that this work has been supported by £4.7 million of investment in 119 projects by the Office for Students and its predecessor. These projects are addressing online harassment, hate crime and religious intolerance.
More broadly, Ministers have provided over £144,000 for a programme to support universities in tackling anti-semitism on campus, delivered by the Holocaust Education Trust, in partnership with the Union of Jewish Students.