A new Shoah education project targeting university campus antisemitism is to receive £500,000 from the Government over three years, Jewish News can reveal.
The project, expected to reach some 24,000 university students over three years, puts the onus on participants to pass on the lessons of the Holocaust to their classmates.
Launching in the Autumn this year, it will take some 150 students and university staff on educational trips to the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Krakow every year.
They will hear from survivors and deliver workshops on tackling antisemitism to other students upon their return, with student publications and groups expected to take part in the programme.
Announcing the funding, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This new programme will help tackle antisemitism on campuses and see student leaders educate thousands of their fellow students about prejudice and intolerance.”
Jenrick, who attended Yad Vashem’s World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem last week to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, said: “As we reflect on one of the darkest episodes of history, we must acknowledge the present failures of today and the importance to live up to this year’s theme and stand together. ”
The scheme is to be delivered by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).
It is inspired by a one-off project led by UJS and HET in the previous academic year, which reached 125 leaders and students across 30 universities afflicted by reports of higher levels of racism.
During the project, delegations of students, including faith leaders and student union members, visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, followed by seminars and workshops.
Upon their return, they helped organise dozens of campus events to combat antisemitism and mark Holocaust Memorial Day, reaching a further 4,000 students from Exeter to Edinburgh.
In a separate project targeting younger students launched close to 20 years ago, entitled Lessons from Auschwitz, HET has taken over 41,000 six formers and teachers to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
HET chief executive Karen Pollock said the trust was “proud” to deliver the project with UJS.
She said student leaders “are at the coalface on campus combatting the antisemitism that blights many students’ university experience.”
“They will see for themselves the site where 1.1 million people were murdered, to understand where hate can ultimately lead and I hope this experience will empower them to stand up to prejudice, hatred and division on campus and in broader society,” she said.
The latest announcement comes amid growing levels of antisemitism on campuses, according to UJS organiser Daniel Kosky.
Kosky cited “distressing incidents of Holocaust trivialisation at student parties, the use of antisemitic stereotypes on student social media groups, and an increase in antisemitism in campus discussion around Israel.”
He said in a statement to Jewish News that UJS is “immensely grateful” to continue working with HET in the government-backed project.
“The three-year commitment to taking student and university leaders to Auschwitz-Birkenau will be a vital tool in tackling antisemitism and hatred on campus,” he said.