Government halts ALL contact with National Union of Students over antisemitism fears

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Government halts ALL contact with National Union of Students over antisemitism fears

All engagement with the NUS, including government funding, suspended amid long-standing concerns about the body's attitude towards Jewish students.

The Government is to suspend all engagement with the National Union of Students amid long-standing concerns about antisemitism in the body.

Universities minister Michelle Donelan has ordered the NUS to be removed from all the Department for Education (DfE) departmental groups and replaced with alternative student representation.

She has requested the DfE’s arm’s-length bodies, such as the Office for Students, to take similar action and said that the NUS would receive no government funding.

Last month the union announced that it was opening itself up to an independent investigation following a wave of complaints by Jewish students.

However the DfE said these must lead to “substantive action” and the decision to disengage from the NUS will be kept under review “as the organisation demonstrates it has suitably addressed these issues”.

Ms Donelan said: “I am horrified by the thought of Jewish students feeling ostracised by an organisation which should be a voice for their community and an advocate of equality for all students.

“Although this was a decision that the department did not take lightly, we have been clear that antisemitism must be stamped out of the sector and are treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he was “seriously concerned” at the number of reports of alleged antisemitism linked to the NUS.

“Jewish students need to have confidence that this is a body that represents them, and we need to be sure that the student bodies that we engage with are speaking fairly for all students, which is why we are disengaging with the NUS until the issues have been addressed,” he said.

“From the NUS’s initial response to our concerns, I am confident that they are keen to take action and welcome further updates from them. Antisemitism has no place in our society and we will stamp it out, wherever it occurs.”

In response, the NUS said it was “disappointed” that the Government had announced the move through a press release rather than seeking to engage with it directly.

Following the launch of its investigation, the NUS said it would be appointing a QC, in consultation with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), next week to conduct the inquiry.

Outgoing NUS President Larissa Kennedy was alleged to have suggested Jewish students segregate themselves into a quiet area designed so they would not have to hear Lowkey perform. The rapper has a history of making comments “widely been seen as antisemitic”.

“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 spokesman said.

“Once the QC has been appointed we will be able to update on the process and timeline. We look forward to working with the Government constructively on this matter.”

In its press notice, the DfE cited a number of incidents which had prompted it to take action, including what it said was the NUS’s “unacceptable response” to concerns about an invitation to the rapper Lowkey to its 2022 conference.

It noted that the rapper had a history of making comments that have “widely been seen as antisemitic”.

NUS president Larissa Kennedy was alleged to have suggested that Jewish students segregate themselves into a quiet area designed for neurodivergent students so they would not have to hear him which, the DfE said, was “utterly unacceptable”.

It said it was also “deeply concerned” about the social media postings by the NUS president-elect, ALL, including a tweet in support of Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation.

The DfE noted that it was not the first time the NUS had been caught up in controversies over alleged antisemitism, including an inquiry in 2005.

In 2017 a number of student unions disaffiliated from the NUS following the election of Malia Bouattia – who had described Birmingham University as “something of an outpost of Zionism” – as its president.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

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.

Easy access

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.

read more: