The Government has said it will fund a £144,000 project that extends the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Auschwitz programme to universities for the first time.
Under the plan, 200 university students from across the country will visit the former Nazi death camp and return to lead seminars in an effort to target anti-Semitism on campus. Currently the HET works mainly with schools and colleges.
The new money comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Education, and the programme will be jointly delivered by the HET and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).
“These resources will enable a substantial expansion of student and university leaders receiving the training needed to combat anti-Semitism on campus,” said UJS president Josh Holt.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said Holocaust education was “one of the most powerful tools we have to fight bigotry,” adding that the new programme would “tackle anti-Semitism, intolerance and prejudice on university campuses”.
Just days before this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, the announcement was made at a Holocaust Educational Trust dinner on Tuesday night, where the BBC’s Nick Robinson spoke, and Holt said it was in part a response to recent events.
“Sadly we have seen a distressing increase in swastika graffiti, Holocaust denial literature and politicisation of the Holocaust on some UK campuses,” he said.
“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.”
HET chief executive Karen Pollock agreed, saying: “Anti-Semitism 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.”
She added that the students’ specialised course “will include taking student and university leaders to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau so that they can see with their own eyes where anti-Semitism has led in the past”.
The Board of Deputies welcomed the news. A spokesman said: “HET and UJS have been facilitating visits to former Nazi concentration camps for some years now, and with tangible effects, because the only way to fight prejudice is through education.”
He added: “This new funding will make a material difference by enabling students to learn about the tragedy of the Holocaust with their own eyes, which is the most effective means of education. The Secretary of State is to be congratulated for committing funding to this important project.”
Since 1994, more than 34,000 students and teachers have taken part in the HET’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project, which is based on the premise that “hearing is not like seeing,” but until now it has only been open to 16-18 year olds, most of whom have been sixth-formers.
HET leaders said they hoped that the 200 university students attending the new programme would return to run seminars for up to 7,500 students across the UK.
Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We warmly welcome the announcement of the Government’s support for the expansion of the Scheme to support universities in tackling anti-Semitism on campus.”
“This issue was raised by the UJS president at the JLC’s annual meeting with the Prime Minister in September, and we are delighted that there has been concrete output from that meeting and that this important work to continue combatting racism and prejudice on campus will be expanded.”
— Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt (@mhclg) January 16, 2018
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.