NUS funding suspended as Government cuts ties over anti-Semitism row

·2-min read
Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said the Department for Education did not take the decision to suspend all engagement with the National Union of Students lightly - Neil Hall/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said the Department for Education did not take the decision to suspend all engagement with the National Union of Students lightly - Neil Hall/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Government will suspend all engagement with the National Union of Students (NUS) over anti-Semitism allegations, the education minister has said.

Michelle Donelan announced a package of measures, meaning the union will receive no government funding. It will also be removed from all Department for Education student groups and replaced by alternative student representation.

The move comes after a series of anti-Semitism rows involving the NUS, including controversy over the social media posts of its incoming president.

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 anti-Semitism must be stamped out of the sector and are treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness."

Earlier this year, Shaima Dallali was elected as the new leader of the organisation, which aims to represent the interests of more than seven million students across 600 student unions in the UK.

However, a series of tweets posted by Ms Dallali provoked anger among groups tackling anti-Semitism, who called for her to meet with Jewish students and “build bridges”.

Her posts included comments showing apparent sympathy towards Hamas and quoting an anti-Jewish battle cry.

A series of tweets by Shaima Dallali has provoked anger among those fighting anti-Semitism
A series of tweets by Shaima Dallali has provoked anger among those fighting anti-Semitism

The NUS was also criticised by Jewish student groups for inviting Lowkey, the rapper, to perform at one of the organisation's conferences.

Lowkey made a series of controversial comments that were branded anti-Semitic. These included that the mainstream media had “weaponised the Jewish heritage” of Ukraine's president, and that Israel was a “racist endeavour”.

A spokesman for the NUS said: “We are disappointed that the universities minister has press released that the DfE will be disengaging with NUS, rather than seeking to engage with us directly.

"Following a complaint about anti-Semitism, we launched an independent investigation. We will be appointing a QC, in consultation with the Union of Jewish Students, next week.

"We have sought to undertake the investigation in a serious and proper way, and are working in collaboration with the Union of Jewish Students at every step of the way. 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.”

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