Communities Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday (16 January) announced £144,261 of funding, in partnership with the Department for Education, for a new programme to support universities in tackling antisemitism on campus.

The programme will be delivered by the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Union of Jewish Students and will involve 200 students and university leaders from across the country visiting the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Upon their return, they will take part in a seminar which will deal explicitly with campus issues and how to identify and tackle antisemitism.

The announcement was made at a Holocaust Educational Trust reception.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said:

We all have a duty to speak out in the memory of those who were murdered during the Holocaust and all those, today, who are the subject of hatred and antisemitism.

Holocaust education remains one of the most powerful tools we have to fight bigotry.

The Holocaust Educational Trust has been hugely successful in teaching school children about where hatred, intolerance and misinformation can lead.

That’s why I am proud that the government will fund this new programme to tackle antisemitism, prejudice and intolerance on university campuses.

Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock MBE said:

Antisemitism remains a real challenge on campus and tackling it is crucial. We know how important it is to support those people on the frontline dealing with it day in day out, and that is why we are proud to partner with the Union of Jewish Students on this important initiative.

Thanks to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, we will jointly lead a specialised course which will include taking student and university leaders to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau so that they can see with their own eyes where antisemitism has led in the past.

Josh Holt, President of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said:

UJS are very grateful that our partnership with HET is being recognised and supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The resources committed today will enable a substantial expansion of student and university leaders receiving the education and training needed to combat antisemitism and prejudice on campus.

Sadly we have seen a distressing increase in swastika graffiti, Holocaust denial literature and politicisation of the Holocaust on some UK campuses. We are determined to combat this and welcome this significant contribution to our longstanding work bringing students of all faiths and backgrounds together to create cohesive campus communities.

The new programme will be jointly funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Education, building on the Holocaust Educational Trust’s highly successful ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ programme for school students.

It is expected that the 200 university student leaders who visit Auschwitz-Birkenau will then go on to deliver activity that engages a further 7,500 university students.

Further information

The Union of Jewish Students represents over 8,500 Jewish students, spanning over 60 Jewish Societies (J-Socs) on campuses across the UK and Ireland.

Their aim is to create and deliver powerful campaigns; fight prejudice, advance inclusion, and inspire education and action on the issues that matter.

The Holocaust Educational Trust was founded in 1988 during the passage of the War Crimes Act. Their aim is to raise awareness and understanding in schools and amongst the wider public of the Holocaust and its relevance today.

The Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project for post-16 students and teachers is now in its 18th year and has taken over 31, 000 students and teachers from across the UK to the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, as well as many MPs and other guests.

The 4-part course is open to 2 students from every school and college in England, Scotland and Wales, and incorporates a 1-day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The visits, combined with Orientation and Follow-up seminars, leave an unforgettable emotional and educational mark on participants. The Project aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing’ and to signal what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable.

The Holocaust Educational Trust and the Union of Jewish Students have worked together to take student leaders to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau since late 2014 including:

  • taking 4 delegations of National Union of Students (NUS), Students Union and student faith leaders to Auschwitz, combined with workshops

  • participants in these programmes have facilitated dozens of campus events educating about the Holocaust and addressing hatred and prejudice

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