Topics: Student Organisations, Students, Antisemitism, Politics, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), Main Topic: Education
Abstract: This report summarises the findings of a survey of Jewish students conducted by NUS between November 2016 and February 2017. It aimed to take stock of the experience of Jewish students in higher education at a time when the number of recorded antisemitic incidents has increased, both on and off campus, and because it is critical that NUS, students’ unions, universities and the wider higher education sector understand the needs of Jewish students. Some 485 self-defining Jewish students responded to the survey. The vast majority of the respondents were in full time education (96 per cent), aged 17-24 (91per cent), studying at undergraduate level (86 per cent) and were UK citizens (87 per cent). The key findings of the report can be summarised as follows: Provision: • A plurality of students reported there was no kosher food on or near campus (42 per cent) • The majority of students surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed that their university avoids scheduling classes and exams during Sabbath and Jewish religious festivals (59 per cent). Academic coverage of Judaism: A plurality of students surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that: • They feel comfortable with the way in which issues relating to Jewish people/Judaism are covered in class (36 per cent). The majority of students surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that: • They have not experienced negative issues in classes related to Judaism (57 per cent). Engagement with Students’ Unions: • Respondents showed a high level of engagement with their students’ unions including being members of a society or a sports club (69 per cent) and voting in student elections (75 per cent) • Almost half of students felt they were always or usually able to participate in student politics (47 per cent). A plurality or the majority of students surveyed either disagreed or strongly disagreed that: • As a Jewish student they felt their SU understands their needs (43 per cent) • As a Jewish student they feel represented by their SU (51 per cent). • Their SU policy reflects the views of Jewish students (45 per cent). Engagement with NUS: • Almost half of students surveyed either disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would feel comfortable attending NUS events (49 per cent) • Two fifths either disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would feel comfortable engaging in NUS policymaking processes (42 per cent) • The majority of students either disagreed or strongly disagreed that NUS would respond appropriately to allegations of antisemitism if they arose (65 per cent). Israel/Palestine: • In an academic context, over half of students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they felt comfortable engaging in debate on Israel/Palestine (55 per cent). Either a plurality or the majority of students surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed that: • As a Jew they felt confident to voice their opinions on Israel/Palestine in class (45 per cent) • They felt comfortable engaging in debate on Israel/Palestine in their SUs or in a society context (54 per cent) • They felt comfortable engaging in debate on Israel/Palestine on campus (50 per cent) • The vast majority of students whose Students’ Union had a BDS policy or campaign did not feel comfortable or comfortable at all with it (68 per cent). Hate Crime: The majority of students surveyed: • Were not very or not at all worried about being subject to verbal abuse, physical attack, vandalism, property damage or theft because of their Jewish belief (73 per cent) • Had not experienced any crime whilst they have been students at their current place of study (65 per cent) • Over a quarter have experienced personal abuse through social media or other communication (28 per cent) • Of those who had experienced crime the majority believed these incidents were motivated by the perpetrator’s prejudice towards them based on their Jewish belief (66 per cent).