Jewish student groups deny university 'no-go zones'

Group of students
Image caption Student groups have responded by saying UK universities have "active and open" Jewish populations

A claim that Jewish students avoid applying to certain UK universities over anti-Semitism fears has been criticised by a Jewish student group.

Baroness Ruth Deech, the former adjudicator for universities, told the Telegraph that Jewish students felt "unwelcome" on some campuses.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) denied that such no-go zones exist.

Universities UK, which represents the sector, said unlawful discrimination had "no place" in higher education.

Baroness Deech was the UK's first adjudicator for universities between 2005 and 2008; the office was set up in 2004 to run a student complaints scheme in England and Wales.

"Amongst Jewish students, there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid," she said.

Universities where debates or events have raised concerns over anti-Semitism were "not so popular" with Jewish students "because of things have happened there", she added.

Baroness Deech cited incidents at Oxford University's Labour club, which voted to endorse Israel Apartheid week, as well as in Exeter University where students wore t-shirts featuring anti-Semitic slogans.

The UJS said Baroness Deech's claim "completely ignores the positive contributions that Jewish students make to their campuses every day".

Image caption Baroness Ruth Deech said Jewish students feel "that there are certain universities that you should avoid"

It said the view did a "disservice to the thousands who are able to freely express their Jewish identities".

The UJS, which represents some 8,500 Jewish students, added that UK universities have "active and open Jewish student populations".

It said: "There is no university that we would discourage Jewish students to apply to on the basis of anti-Semitism."

Jewish societies at Manchester and Oxford Universities, both of which Baroness Deech named in the article, voiced concern about the problem of anti-Semitism on British campuses.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Oxford University's Jewish Society said it was good that the problem of anti-Semitism was recognised.

But both denied that their universities were no-go zones for Jewish students.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "We want our universities to be tolerant and inclusive places."

She explained that universities have a "difficult balancing act" to play between protecting students from abuse and allowing free speech.

"This is particularly relevant when Israel and Palestine are being discussed," she said.

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