Students Staff
University of Essex

February 28, 2019

Support and Solidarity with our Jewish students and staff

Our community joined together in a public show of support and solidarity for our Jewish students and staff.  Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, addressed a crowd of some 500 people. You can read his speech, and a statement from our Chancellor, The Rt Hon John Bercow, here. 

Our Vice-Chancellor, Anthony Forster.

At the University of Essex we have a tradition of coming together to show the strength of our feeling about an issue, to demonstrate our support for each other and to stand shoulder to shoulder as individuals and as a community, on issues that matter to us.

We are a University that must live by our values and the events of last week have called into question our commitment to these values.

It is right that the Jewish Society has now been formed, and I know that the University and the Students’ Union will do all in our power to enable it to flourish alongside our other societies.

This is however only one step. On behalf of our community, I want to speak out against all forms of antisemitism. Today we have come together to show that antisemitism is completely antithetical to the values of the University of Essex – and it has absolutely no place on our campuses and in our relationships with each other.

The President of our Students’ Union, Tancrede Chartier.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition and associated examples are our guide.  “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Antisemitism will not end simply because we stood together on this day at this time to oppose it. What coming together achieves is a public show of solidarity and support, making clear what we stand for. It is another step in demonstrating our values and our support for all our Jewish students and staff. Each and every one of our community needs to ensure that by our actions, the lived experience of Jewish people at our University is one of which we can be proud.

Our Chancellor the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons cannot be with us today, but John has sent me a statement of solidarity which expresses so much better than I can, my utter dismay at what has happened and how we must now go forward.

Amy-Julie Fogiel, the President of our Jewish Society, also addressed the assembled crowds.

I want to share his statement with you:

I am sorry that I cannot be with you in person today. My duty as Speaker is to chair proceedings in the House of Commons. Yet I am with you in spirit and I ask for your attention for just two minutes.

Graduating from the University of Essex nearly 34 years ago is one of the happiest memories of my life. Serving as your Chancellor is amongst my greatest privileges. Why? Because a belief in equality, human rights and non-discrimination is as deep-rooted in the University’s veins as it is in mine. That is why I was mortified last week that the University laid itself open to the charge of antisemitism. That too is why I support the Vice-Chancellor, Anthony Forster, and his colleagues, unequivocally and passionately, in acting to cleanse the University of that ugly and damaging stain.

Let me be clear. The right of free association within the law is one of the most fundamental and precious rights. Jewish students and staff enjoy that right with, equal to and no different from, anyone else. The right to meet, to be themselves, and to assert their Jewish identity is inalienable. It is unconditional. It is non-negotiable. It does not depend upon what such students and staff think of the government of Israel, the state of the Middle East peace process, or any particular policy – be it national, international or global.

Our community gathered to show our support for our Jewish students and staff.

Freedom under the law. Mutual respect. Celebrating the rights of others, not merely our own. These are my core values, your core values, the core values of the Essex University we know and love. Let us reassert these core values today.

I would like to invite everyone present to give a round of applause as a sign of our solidarity with our Jewish students and staff – thank you.



Review of the Experiences of Jewish Students and Staff at the University of Essex

Dear student and staff members of the Essex community,

I am writing to offer the opportunity for students and staff to feed into the Review I am leading on the experiences of Jewish students and staff on all three campuses at the University of Essex.

There are three routes for passing information, experiences and recommendations:

  • By email to this account: dvc@essex.ac.uk
  • By meeting in person: please email dvc@essex.ac.uk to select and arrange a meeting time on either Tuesday 5 March or Monday 11 March
  • By meeting in person with an appointed external and independent member of the Jewish community (appointment to be confirmed; details to follow), and/or organisation (Union of Jewish Students, Community Support Trust, Council for Christians and Jews).

The Review will be reporting to the University Council on 13 May 2019.

The Aims of Review are as follows:

  • The Review will gather information on the experiences of Jewish students and staff at the University of Essex. It will draw upon best practice and expertise outside the University as well as inside.
  • The Review will identify ways in which the University can have greater confidence that the experience of Jewish students and staff reflects the University’s unequivocal commitments and values to equality, diversity and tolerance.

The Review will thus:

  • Make recommendations to the University’s Council (on 13 May) on actions that the University should take to address all issues of concern that arise from the review;
  • Identify mechanisms so that Council will be able to satisfy itself that through clear actions the University is having a positive impact on the lived experience of Jewish students and staff;
  • Draw any wider conclusions of relevance to all minority groups at the University to ensure that all communities, including minority faith communities, at Essex feel welcome.

I look forward to your emails and/or meeting in person.

With best wishes,

Professor Jules Pretty OBE PFHEA FRSB FRSA

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Environment & Society

University of Essex

E jpretty@essex.ac.uk



Our multidisciplinary approach to understanding global conflict

Professor Noam Lubell is the Director of the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub. Here, he explores our multidisciplinary approach to understanding armed conflict and crisis across the world. 

From Syria and Yemen, to the Central African Republic and the Philippines, armed conflicts and crisis plague our world.

Professor Noam Lubell

Professor Noam Lubell

Some crises receive our full attention, while other, equally tragic situations, are rarely reported in the west. Meanwhile the bloodshed and suffering is staggering.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone there have been an estimated five million conflict-related deaths, over 800,000 refugees and an estimated 4.5 million displaced people.

Efforts to alleviate the suffering must rest on solid foundations, guided by clear principles, and administered through effective organisations, all things we at Essex excel in.

Our role in ending the suffering

For decades, experts in our Human Rights Centre have been working together on issues of conflict and crisis, but 2019 marks step-change.

Today they are collaborating in a new, multidisciplinary Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub which has one of the largest collections in the world of experts working in this field. Through research, teaching and practice we can make a global difference.

The breadth of Essex expertise

Our members are engaged in the study of how unrest develops into crisis. They work on issues such as the role of media and journalistic practices in conflict and transition to democracy, the dynamics of authoritarian regimes, and the history of conflicts and their impact on societies. We also have members working on issues such as social work practice in times of conflict.

The legal regimes regulating conflict and crisis and providing protection to victims of war are paramount. When laws of armed conflict are violated, it is of crucial importance to conduct effective investigations to uncover the truth and ensure accountability.

Our members work to achieve this. They are holding major powers accountable for inadequate investigations, and leading a project to create new international guidelines for conducting investigations with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Equally, we work with partners in the field focusing on the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, and providing care for those affected. Our members also have particular expertise in relation to specific conflicts and regions, including the implementation of humanitarian law in Africa, and building peace in Colombia.

States are not the only major players affecting the unfolding of armed conflicts. Armed conflicts often involve non-state actors, and one of the difficult issues we work upon is the human rights obligations of armed groups, and the impact of business and corporate actors. New technologies too are beginning to affect the practice of conflict and we engage in analysis and projects on topics such as cyber-attacks, use of autonomous weapons, and enhancement of humans to create ‘super soldiers’.

Our education that makes change possible

We provide training and advice, to the military, governments, non-governmental-organisations, and courts, bringing our academic expertise, and breadth of research, to life through practical application.

Our new LLM in International Humanitarian Law, one of very few degrees in the world focused on the international legal protections offered during armed conflict and acute crisis, means Essex graduates will affect change for decades to come.

Our excellent education, with the practical opportunities to apply that learning such as through the Digital Verification Unit, or the Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Project (RULAC) with Geneva Academy, or the Pictet competition (of which our students are the reigning international champions), mean Essex students receive an unrivalled experience.

The Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub embodies the Essex spirit of combining theory and practice, and we are extremely excited about the further activities that can be generated through this collective endeavour.



February 22, 2019

Speaking out against all forms of antisemitism

Professor Anthony Forster

Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor

We are a University that must live by our values and the events of this week have raised important questions for us. On behalf of our community, I want to speak out against all forms of antisemitism.

Antisemitism and any other form of hate crime are antithetical to the values of the University and have no place on our campuses. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and associated examples are our guide. This states that, “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

I am pleased the Students’ Union’s Sabbatical Officer team has now met and, following a discussion with the Trustee Board, has made the joint decision to ratify the Jewish Society immediately.

Serious allegations have been made against a member of University staff. In accordance with our University procedures, an independent investigation of these allegations has been initiated and whilst this takes place a member of staff has been suspended. The creation of a Students’ Union Jewish Society and the allegations made against a member of staff require us to address specific issues, but we must also ask ourselves some hard questions about the lived experience of Jewish students and staff at Essex and ensure we are a community that is genuinely welcoming and supportive to all.

I have therefore asked the Deputy Vice-Chancellor to lead a review asking our Jewish students and staff to share their experiences of studying, living and working at Essex. The review will, within the next 8 weeks: identify ways in which we can have greater confidence that the experience of Jewish students and staff reflects our commitments and values; and

  • make recommendations to the University’s Council on actions that we should take to address any issues of concern that arise from the review;
  • identify mechanisms so that Council will be able to satisfy itself that through our actions we are having a positive impact on the lived experience of Jewish students and staff; and
  • draw any wider conclusions of relevance to all faith groups at the University, so that we ensure that all faith communities at Essex feel welcome.

We don’t accept any form of antisemitism in our community and I am therefore asking you to join me on Thursday 28th February at 1pm in Square 3 in a public show of solidarity and support, making this clear and demonstrating our support for our Jewish students and staff.



February 14, 2019

Using our purchasing power for the benefit of our students

Chris Oldham, Director of Estates and Campus Services, tells us more about making the most of our supply chain for the benefit of our students.

Chris Oldham

Chris Oldham

Over the past year The Procurement Services team has been making the most of the University’s supply chain for the benefit of our students. Encouraging our suppliers to provide a student benefit focus within their tender bid has resulted in a wide range of education and employability skills based opportunities for our students and graduates.

To make the most of our purchasing power, a mandatory social value question has been added in all tenders worth more than £25,000, asking bidders to describe how they will support our student community in their development. Their responses are then evaluated and scored accordingly.

There have already been some early successes

  • Legal firm Eversheds Sutherland offering a guest speaker into the School of Law programme introducing a mentoring scheme for law students and developing a potential placement scheme at their Ipswich office
  • Accountancy firm KPMG running an annual skills event for students and promoting our Careers Mentoring Programme to their staff to encourage them to become mentors to our students
  • Rose Builders offering mentoring and placements
  • Phelan Construction offering placement opportunities including roles in administration, marketing and IT
  • Atlantic Data offering student placements
  • Cyber security company KHIPU Networks offering student sponsorship opportunities as well as work experience and graduate roles.

USG has approved a range of recommendations with the aim of delivering an element of direct or indirect student benefit within 50 per cent of all successful tenders. These recommendations include:

  • Adopting UUK guidance for delivering successful social impact and student benefit
  • Continuing to prioritise student benefit as the primary objective of social impact outcomes
  • Evaluating social impact matrices used by other universities and developing a matrix relevant to our specific aims and objectives
  • Strengthening the connection between the Knowledge Gateway and University communities through an increased range of engagement and networking events

If you would like further information, or any guidance on how to maximise student benefit within tenders you are involved with, please email procure@essex.ac.uk or visit our website.