Accessibility statement

University of York response to recent events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East

Posted on 9 October 2023

Information about the University's response to the ongoing events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East, and about our support for those affected.

Updated: Friday 7 June 2024

News of the ongoing conflict is very upsetting, particularly for our colleagues and students with connections to the area. We are reaching out to staff and our International Student Support team is contacting impacted students directly to offer welfare and other types of support. We are working to ensure all members of the University community are supported as much as possible, and we will respond as appropriate as the situation develops.

This is a difficult time for many of us and it's clear that there won't be a quick resolution. Across our community there are strong and diverse views about the situation. 

Emails and updates

We have created further information to support our community in response to the ongoing situation in Israel/Gaza. Please refer to this document for advice or understanding on how we are bringing our experts to the fore in discussions on the issues, freedom of speech/expression, organising events and managing discussions in the classroom/workplace.

How we're responding

Sanctuary and scholarships

Our existing Sanctuary Fund was set up to establish the principle of sanctuary as a major focus for philanthropic fundraising at the University, and we are investigating how we can use this to offer support. So far, we have earmarked initial funding to the value of £250,000 to support refugee students and at-risk academics from Gaza, with further funding likely to follow as the situation evolves. 
Currently, there are no straightforward exit routes from Gaza and no special UK entry visa routes for refugees from Gaza in prospect. In view of this, whilst we will look to support refugees already in the UK, we are also ready to explore other ways of enrolling students on scholarships, perhaps onto our online programmes, perhaps in cooperation with partners in places where the award of visas may be more straightforward.

As a University of Sanctuary and member of the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), we are exploring options to provide support to affected alumni and other at-risk academics. 

Support for universities in Gaza

Although there is no nationwide scheme in place to enable twinning of universities, as there is for UK and Ukrainian universities, we are nevertheless committed to developing links and engaging in longer term rebuilding of HE and research in the region where possible. Universities UK and an educational consultancy have begun to develop ideas for how UK universities could support student learning in Gaza. An initial stage may be to establish cooperation with universities on the West Bank which could in due course act as a bridge to Gaza and initial support is most likely to be in the form of the provision of online learning materials and/or access to library resources. 

Responding to global crises

Sadly, this is one of several instances of conflict, or humanitarian disasters, affecting members of our community. Find out more about how we support our staff and students, as well as how members of our community can help.

Supporting those affected by global crises

Responsible investment

In April 2024, we announced that we no longer hold investments in companies that primarily make or sell weapons and defence-related products or services. This decision followed calls by members of our community to cut these investment ties and renew our commitment to the mission of public good. In response, we worked in partnership with our Student Unions to update our responsible investment statement.

Support for staff

Please contact HR for any support - including practical support: our employee assistance partner Health Assured is now also offering specialist support to assist individuals and managers in response to the disturbing world events.

Please also alert your Line Manager, if you feel comfortable doing so, so that they can offer you support and make reasonable adjustments if needed.

Travel advice

If you are due to travel to any of the affected regions, please speak to your Deans or Head of Department for Professional Services staff, regarding arrangements. We are following Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice, which is advising against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and against all travel in key areas of the large-scale conflict.

If you're abroad or travelling elsewhere

We know that in some countries protests, demonstrations and other activity related to events in Israel and Gaza are leading to heightened security measures and that some embassies have issued security or demonstration alerts. It is important to be aware of what is happening wherever you are: check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for the country that you're visiting and sign up for email alerts.

If you're currently working abroad, stay in contact with your department and follow any advice that's sent to you, either from your department in York or from your local institution. In an emergency, contact the local emergency services or our Campus Safety team: you can use the SafeZone app for this.

While you're away you should:

  • Download the SafeZone Mobile App if you have not already done so
  • Avoid protests, demonstrations, or areas with significant police activity
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Keep your phone charged
  • Keep in touch with friends, family and your department

Support for students

Our International Student Support Team has reached out to all of our Israeli and Palestinian students to offer individual support and also to sign post our Student Unions (YUSU and GSA).