67 more universities adopt IHRA antisemitism definition

OfS research shows over 200 higher education providers have now signed up to the working definition of antisemitism

Sixty-seven more universities have signed up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism in the last year, according to figures published today by the Office for Students (OfS).

A total of 95 universities have now adopted the definition, an increase on the 28 that the Union of Jewish Students counted in September 2020.

This rise brings the total number of universities, colleges and other higher education providers that have adopted the IHRA definition to 200.

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism is a useful way of understanding antisemitism, which enables universities and colleges to interpret and tackle antisemitism on campus,” said Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the OfS.

“The OfS has itself signed up to the definition and the information we are publishing today helps to further increase transparency about the position of universities and colleges. This new evidence demonstrates that there has been a rapid increase in the number of universities and colleges adopting the definition. 

“This is welcome and is testament to the excellent campaigning work by groups of Jewish students, which has led more universities and colleges to acknowledge the importance of the definition and the benefits of using it in practice. The OfS published a statement of expectations for preventing and tackling harassment earlier this year, and we are clear that we will consider further action if universities do not take the steps necessary to meet these expectations during the current academic year.   

“Signing up to the IHRA working definition is one of the ways universities and colleges can tackle antisemitism. It is essential that universities and colleges act swiftly and decisively in response to any acts of antisemitism, so that students are safe – and feel safe – on campus.  The resources we are publishing today set out some of the positive work universities and colleges are doing in this area.”

Minister for higher and further education Michelle Donelan said: 

The horrors of the Holocaust are a stark reminder that we must do all we can to root out antisemitism wherever we find it. That requires a common understanding of what antisemitism is and the forms it takes in modern society.  

“Adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism makes a public commitment to tackling this insidious form of racism in helping to identify antisemitic conduct, and I have been working across the higher education sector to promote its adoption.  

“It is encouraging to see so many universities take up the IHRA definition in the past year – but there is more work to do to end the scourge of antisemitism on our campuses and I will continue to work with university leaders to demand action and urge progress.”

The OfS has published the list of providers who have publicly confirmed they have adopted the definition, alongside case studies and resources designed to help universities and colleges to tackle antisemitism on campus.  

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