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UK Govt cuts ties with NUS over antisemitism allegations

27th May 2022
UK Govt cuts ties with NUS over antisemitism allegations

Hamed Chapman

Boris Johnson’s government has taken the drastic step of cutting all official contact with the National Union of Students, including using its economic muscle to stop funding following allegations of antisemitism.

The National Union of Students (NUS), which has 600 affiliated unions representing some seven million students at universities and colleges, said they were “disappointed” by the boycott that was announced in a press release “rather than seeking to engage with us directly.”

“Following a complaint about antisemitism, we launched an independent investigation. We will be appointing a QC, in consultation with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), next week,” a spokesperson said.

“We have sought to undertake the investigation in a serious and proper way, and are working in collaboration with UJS at every step of the way,” a statement said, adding that it was seeking to work with the Government “constructively on this matter.”

In the press release, Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said he was “seriously concerned to hear of so many reports of alleged antisemitism” linked to the NUS. “We need to be sure that the student bodies that we engage with are speaking fairly for all students.” In a statement in April on its website, the NUS said there had been “some very public allegations” being made about one of its newly elected officers who does not take up the post until July 2022.

“One allegation was put forward during the election itself and was dealt with by the Returning Officer resulting in a public apology from the candidate in question. The other allegations came after the election vote which is why they weren’t dealt with as part of the election process.”

“Now that we are outside of the election process, the responsibility to look into these concerns lies ultimately with the NUS Board. NUS takes all allegations of antisemitism extremely seriously and if we find that action needs to be taken, we won’t hesitate to take it, as we have previously,” it said.

The sudden severance of relations comes after the Jewish Chronicle last month quoted Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, saying she was “actively considering” the move after the election of Shaima Dallali as President of the NUS.

“I am actively considering a range of possible measures, including reporting the NUS to the Charity Commission and full suspension from all engagement with Government – to be replaced by alternative student voices – unless they take immediate steps to regain the confidence of Jewish students,” Donelan was quoted as saying.

In the Department of Education (DfE) release, the Universities Minister also revealed he had “written to Civica, the electoral body that had oversight of the NUS election for the NUS President asking for more information on how the electoral process was carried out.”

Dallali, who has faced racist gendered Islamophobia being Black and wearing a hijab, was elected in voting open to 636 delegates from NUS member students’ unions between 16 March and 28 March with an overall 84.5 per cent turnout recorded.

Photo: Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi (Credit Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing St)

Editorial: Hasty sanctions imposed on NUS

 

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