Ministers Announce NUS Disengagement Over Antisemitism Allegations
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Ministers Announce NUS Disengagement Over Antisemitism Allegations

Ella Kipling May 20, 2022

The UK government has announced their temporary disengagement with the National Union of Students, the NUS, following recent antisemitism allegations. This involves the NUS being removed from all Department for Education (DFE) groups, and they will be replaced with alternative student representation. 

The DFE has also said that the NUS will no longer receive any government funding. Michelle Donelan, the Higher Education Minister, has written to the electoral body that oversaw the NUS election for the NUS president, asking for more information on the process. 

Donelan explained that she is ‘horrified’ by the thought of Jewish students feeling ostracised by the NUS and said of the DFE’s disengagement: 

‘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. Whilst our door is not closed to the NUS, our message could not be simpler. We need decisive and effective action in response to these repeated allegations of antisemitic behaviour.’ 

‘Need to have confidence’

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi weighed in, stating that ‘Jewish students need to have confidence that this is a body that represents them.’ He said that they were disengaging with the NUS until the issues have been addressed, as they need to be sure that the student bodies they engage with ‘are speaking fairly for all students.’ 

A spokesperson for the NUS said that they were ‘disappointed’ that Donelan announced the news in a press release, rather than ‘seeking to engage’ with them directly. They said:

‘Following a complaint about antisemitism, 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 this investigation in a serious and proper way, and are working in collaboration with UJS at every step of the way.’ 


The DFE stated that allegations of antisemitism within the NUS have been well-documented and span several years. The most recent example includes backlash incoming president Shaima Dallili and a tweet she allegedly posted ten years ago.

She said: ‘I’m not the same person I was. I have developed my political language to talk about Palestine and Israel. I stand by that apology.’

When discussing the scrutiny she has faced as a result of the tweet, Dallali said:

‘Unfortunately, as a black Muslim woman, it is something that I expected because I’ve seen it happen to other black Muslim women when they take up positions in the student union or the NUS, where they are attacked based on their political beliefs or their pro-Palestinian stance.’

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Ella Kipling is an Entertainment and News Writer at GRV Media. She regularly writes a mixture of news and features for HITC and has been part of the team since 2020. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, Ella is currently studying for an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University. She has a keen interest in current affairs and can usually be found reading the news, with her nose in a book (and updating her Goodreads), talking about women’s rights, or listening to Showtunes.