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UCL response to events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East

19 December 2023

Find more information about how our university has been responding and how to access support for those affected.

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 We know that this is an incredibly difficult time for many members of our community. The impact of the violence and conflict on communities in Gaza, Israel and the wider region are being felt deeply across the world, including by many staff and students in our own community at UCL.  

Many teams across the university have been working hard to support those affected in our community including supporting staff and students who have engaged with our services directly, reaching out to members of our community who were studying, researching or working in the region to ensure their safety, engaging through our Student Societies and staff networks to try to identify and help those impacted, and running drop-in support sessions.  

The services we have are open to support all staff and students who may be affected, and we strongly urge you to reach out if you are in need and to help signpost to these widely across our university. Our thoughts are with everyone impacted at this worrying time.

On this page

Responding to and reporting incidents of racism, antisemitism or Islamophobia 

We want to remind everyone that racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, abuse, incitement, harassment, anti-Palestinian prejudice or anti-Israeli prejudice will never be tolerated at UCL, and we have been saddened and disgusted to see spikes in these across the country and within our own campus.  

We are treating reports that we receive with the utmost seriousness, and so we strongly urge you to report any incidents of this through the online tool, Report + Support.  

We also know that incidents of this nature tend to be underreported, and we have written directly to groups including Jewish Society, Islamic Society, Friends of Israel Society and Students for Justice in Palestine Society urging them to report any incidents and access support. Without this kind of data, it is much harder for us to build up a picture of what is happening on campus and what staff and students are experiencing, and then take appropriate action. 

Report + Support is open to all members of our community, whether they are the victim of an instance of abuse, or witness to any incident, and it includes the option to report anonymously or on the record. 

Additional external resources and support on reporting Islamophobia or antisemitism 

Universities UK (UUK) has published a number of practical guides for universities and resources on tackling Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hatred, antisemitism and on tackling harassment. 

The Community Security Trust (CST) has published a number of resources on their social media feeds, including guidance on how to communicate about Israel in a non-antisemitic way. CST also has a national emergency number which should be used to report antisemitic attacks, alongside contacting the police via 999: 0800 032 3263. 

Tell Mama is a confidential support service for those suffering from anti-Muslim hate and discrimination across the UK. Their website features a number of different ways to report anti-Muslim incidents, including via phone or WhatsApp. 

Any hate crime can be reported to the police here.   

Victim Support is an independent charity that supports victims of crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales. 

Support for students

Students can contact our Support Team for Students affected by War, Conflict and Disaster, a collaboration between Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW), the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences (PALS), and the University Clinic. The team provides emotional and practical support to students affected by events in their home countries by offering sessions of Psychological First Aid (PFA). You can access the team's support by contacting the Study Abroad and International Support team.  

All students also have access to UCL's 24/7 Student Support Line for support with their mental health and wellbeing, and additional support services around faith and belief at UCL including quiet spaces for prayer and advice from our Interfaith team. 

We know that a student affected may find it difficult to focus on their studies at this time. Anyone struggling with academic work should first talk to their tutor, who will be able to offer support and advice. Departments can also provide Extenuating Circumstances or Academic Adjustments to support any student who experiences sudden, unexpected difficulties that may affect their performance at assessment.  

If any students face financial difficulty as a result of the conflict, we encourage them to speak with one of our Student Funding Advisers. Students who are in unexpected financial need with their living costs can also apply to the Financial Assistance Fund

More information on support available from Students' Union UCL can be accessed here: Students' Union UCL 'Support for our community in response to escalating violence in the Middle East' 

Support for staff

UCL staff and doctoral researchers can access confidential, 24/7 mental health support with our Employee Assistance Programme: Staff Support Service.   

We are continuing to monitor the situation and are working to contact staff in the area directly to offer support and ensure their safety. 

Ensuring safety and security on campus

UCL’s campus has security cover 24/7 and we have increased security coverage in key areas across campus in recent weeks to ensure our community’s continued safety and sense of safety.  

Security support can be accessed by calling +44 (0)20 7679 2222 or extension 222 from a UCL landline. SafeZone is an app available to all UCL students and staff to make it easier for you to contact UCL Security directly from your mobile device. Find out more information about SafeZone and how to download it here. If in an emergency, call 999 and ask for the appropriate service.  

Travel guidance

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated its guidance on travel to the region. Other nationalities should check their own government’s advice before considering any travel. You must also speak to your supervisor and complete a risk assessment before travelling.  

Diversity of perspectives

UCL recognises the diversity of perspectives in our large, global university community. The freedom to hold and debate different views within the forum of a university is essential to UCL’s values.  

We have been working closely with the Students’ Union and other teams to facilitate a diversity of student and staff led events and activities on campus in line with our principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech and will continue to do so.  

As always, consideration should be given to UCL Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech and legal context, and members of our community should be mindful of making clear any distinction between institutional and individual stances.  

UCL’s institutional position has been and is focused primarily on supporting our student and staff community as best we can during this difficult time.

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