A little bit about UJS

UJS – The Voice of Jewish Students

Leading, defending and enriching Jewish life on campus 

We are the Union of Jewish Students, the voice of 9,000 Jewish students, spanning over 75 Jewish Societies (JSocs) on campuses across the UK and Ireland. We are traditional, progressive, cultural and spiritual; we come from the left, centre and right and can be found across religious and political spectrums.

Guided by our core values, the priorities of our elected President and policy passed at UJS Conference, together we create and deliver powerful campaigns; fighting prejudice, advancing inclusion, and inspiring education and action on the issues that matter to us. 

Locally, nationally and internationally, we run diverse and dynamic programmes; provide access to kosher food and accommodation; and passionately engage with Israel, interfaith, and social action projects.

For over 100 years, we’ve been leading, defending and enriching Jewish student life across the UK and Ireland, and we’re proud to be the voice of Jewish students.

The Jewish Society (J-Soc) is the main focus of Jewish student life on each campus and is a recognised member of each university’s Student Union. J-Socs host a variety of cultural, educational, religious, social and political activities for their members, all of which are supported by UJS. These programmes range from weekly Lunch and Learns to annual J-Soc Balls.

J-Socs are led by a democratically elected committee of dedicated Jewish students who receive guidance, support and resources from UJS. Like UJS, J-Socs are open to all Jewish students, from all backgrounds and denominations. J-Socs vary in size from ten to 1,000+ members, depending on the size of the local Jewish student community. Find out more about our member J-Socs here.
Cross-Communalism: we believe that UJS and J-Soc activities should be open to all Jewish students regardless of political or religious affiliation or denomination.

Peer-leadership: we believe in empowering students to run their own programming for their peers.

Representation: we believe that Jewish students should have their voices heard both locally and nationally. J-Soc committees and the UJS President are elected roles which consider the views of their members and in turn represent the views of Jewish students to the wider community.

Engagement with Israel: we passionately and proudly connect our students with over 3000 years of Jewish and Hebrew culture, offering opportunities to strengthen, celebrate and explore a personal relationship with Israel as part of an evolving expression of Jewish identity
J-Socs: we currently provide training and funding for over 60 J-Socs around the UK and Ireland. UJS offers J-Socs this support in order to enhance their activities and Jewish student life on campus.

Campaigns: UJS creates and delivers powerful campaigns to defend its members' interests. We work with universities, NUS (National Union of Students) and HM Government to ensure that the needs of Jewish students are met and represented at every level.

National Events: UJS hosts several national events each year to bring Jewish students from J-Socs around the UK and Ireland together. These include weekends away, sport tournaments, charity events and more.

Services: We secure Jewish student accommodation and spaces for J-Soc activities, as well as sourcing kosher food for students on campuses around the country.

To find out more about the current UJS team, click here.
The IUJF (Inter University Jewish Federation) was the creation of the Manchester Jewish Association. They had the vision and the foresight to comprehend a growing pride in the Jewish community and that the time was ripe for Jewish students to have a national organisation to co-ordinate the activities of the Jewish student Societies and to represent Jewish students at a national level.

Their first step was to host a conference in Manchester on July 17th 1919 at which four societies were represented: Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford. Although not represented on the outset, the London University Jewish Society subsequently took an active and eventually a leading part in the federation’s affairs.

In 1946 the following Universities had societies affiliated to the Federation: Belfast; Birmingham; Cambridge; Cardiff; Dublin; Durham; Edinburgh; Glasgow; Leeds; Liverpool; London; Manchester; Oxford; Reading; Sheffield.

The two main activities of the Federation, from its inception, were an annual Summer School and an Annual Conference, held in the winter vacation.

With the rise to power of the Nazis, large numbers of Jewish students had their studies disrupted and many sought refuge in various countries outside Germany; the International Students Service was in the forefront of providing advice to these displaced students and financial assistance was made available from communal funds. The Federation was active in supporting these efforts; almost £2000 was raised from University students in Britain. Our commitment to and connection with Jewish people across the world continued with involvement in the struggle to support Soviet Jewry. UJS takes huge pride (indeed schleps enormous nachas) in being the first Jewish students’ union in the world, and plays an active role in the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS).

Throughout its existence the IUJF was involved with the general Jewish community. It was represented on the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation and had an ongoing liaison with Jewish Youth Study Groups.

For almost fifty years from its foundation until the creation of the Hillel Foundation, the IUJF had no office, no staff, no sabbatical officers and no assured budget other than the money that the students could raise themselves. The Federation was run from the rooms of the then Chairman or Secretary; all activities were organized by the students themselves on a voluntary basis in their spare time; from time to time small subventions were obtained from the general community.

It was the partnership with B’nai B’rith set up the Hillel Foundation which provided the IUJF with its first permanent office and its first professional assistance. This enabled the Federation and its successor, UJS, to increase its work beyond the wildest expectations its founders.

Following the passing of Zionism = Racism at the United Nations in 1975, and some J-Socs being banned for being Zionist, UJS emerged as a leading force in the fight against those who attempt to demonise and delegitimise the State of Israel. The same decade witnessed the rise of the National Front in Britain and as we evolved as a campaigning union, UJS was at the forefront of the wider student movements anti-Racism anti-Fascism work; a leading role we continue to champion today.

The organization was renamed UJS in 1973 and currently represents a constituency of approximately 8,500 Jewish students, with somewhere between 2500 – 3000 active members of its affiliated Jewish Societies (J-Socs) on individual campuses.

We are proud to be an incubator for future leaders of the Jewish community and beyond, including Alan Senitt z"l, Israel Lobbyist for BICOM and inaugural Director of the Coexistence Trust, Luciana Berger, former MP for Liverpool Waverley and previously Shadow Minister for Mental Health, and Adam Pike, founder of BeyondMe and Supercarers. More recently, Jewish students continue to make phenomenal impact on the world around them - read more in our latest annual review.

We continue to impact positively upon the lives of Jewish students and many others thanks to the incredible support we receive - be a part of it here.

Find your local J-Soc