IHRA definition
Image: The Boar / Abbey Parker

University of Warwick to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism after policy U-turn

The University of Warwick has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism after previously refusing to do so in January.

Vice-chancellor Stuart Croft wrote to Warwick Jewish Israeli Society (JISoc) confirming that the IHRA definition of antisemitism will be adopted “by way of policy” by the University.

In the letter, the vice-chancellor stated that “antisemitism is unacceptable and abhorrent” and any case of antisemitism will be “met with very firm sanctions”.

The vice-chancellor also confirmed that the IHRA definition “will be taken into account by any disciplinary tribunal in considering a complaint of allegation of antisemitism”.

The University originally refused to adopt the IHRA definition in January. In a previous letter to JISoc, Professor Croft said that the definition did not offer “any added value” to previous University policy.

An open letter signed by over 80 Warwick members of staff was sent urging the University to continue to refuse to adopt the IHRA definition. The letter stated that the IHRA definition “is unable to deal with structural Antisemitism due to its focus on emotion and intent”.

Professor Croft was criticised in Parliament by the chair of the All-Party Group Against Antisemitism, Andrew Percy MP, for the decision not to adopt the IHRA definition.

This is a welcome step in guaranteeing the welfare and safety of Jewish students, and we will be seeking further clarification by the University as to how the definition will be used in disciplinary case

–Warwick Jewish Israeli Society and Union of Jewish Students

Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, wrote to universities who had not adopted the IHRA definition, asking them to do so by the end of December. 

Mr Williamson also stated that if universities continued to refuse to adopt the definition then he would “consider other options”, which included “a new registration condition” or “suspending funding”.

Professor Croft has since written to the Education Secretary to inform him that the IHRA definition has now been adopted by the University of Warwick.

JISoc issued a joint statement together with the Union of Jewish Students stating that they were “pleased” that the University “had at last listened to their Jewish students” and adopted the IHRA definition.

“This is a welcome step in guaranteeing the welfare and safety of Jewish students, and we will be seeking further clarification by the University as to how the definition will be used in disciplinary cases.

“We would like to thank countless Jewish students for their continued support and dedication in ensuring the adoption of the definition by the University, as well as Warwick SU, local MPs and all those who stood with us in urging the University to take this much needed step.”

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