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What does the education secretary’s latest letter mean for universities?

Gavin Williamson may have come bottom of a Conservative Home popularity poll for cabinet members, but that does not mean the former chief whip does not have a keen understanding of the dark arts of politics. On Friday, he raised the stakes in the government’s ongoing culture war with higher education with a threat to defund universities that do not adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

In a letter dated 9 October, Williamson said: “The number of universities which have adopted the IHRA definition remains shamefully low, and I have asked my officials to look at developing options to address this.” As Fiona McIntyre reports, former universities minister Chris Skidmore, universities minister Michelle Donelan and several members of the House of Lords have all previously urged universities to adopt the definition.

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