A project to take 200 university students and leaders to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust was launched this week.
It follows the January announcement of £144,000 in government funding to extend the HET’s Lessons from Auschwitz programme, which until now has only been available to schools and colleges.
The money was committed by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which was then headed by Sajid Javid MP, before he replaced Amber Rudd to become Home Secretary.
The programme is to be delivered jointly by the HET and the Union for Jewish Students (UJS) and it is hoped that the 200 students who visit the notorious Nazi site will return to the UK to educate a further 7,500 of their peers in seminars.
Another element of the programme provides for a half-day seminar “where Vice-Chancellors and student leaders will learn about pre-war Jewish life and hear testimony from a Holocaust survivor”.
Researchers at the Community Security Trust (CST) say there have been more than 100 recorded anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses in the last five years, involving either Jewish students, Jewish academics or Jewish societies.
UJS chief executive David Davidi-Brown said: “When Nazi graffiti, ‘Hitler was right’ posters and Holocaust denial literature have appeared on campuses in recent years, the need for this project is clear.”
Jewish students generally live “safe, full and free lives” on campus, he said, but the project “will ensure the student union and institutional leaderships are working towards that being the case every day on every campus”.
HET chief executive Karen Pollock urged students, senior university leaders and sabbatical officers to apply, adding that by visiting Auschwitz gives “the opportunity to begin to understand the magnitude of the Holocaust… Being at one of the largest sites of murder in history forces one to consider where hatred can ultimately lead”.