Following a report from the sector and the findings of the BBC, Universities must remain totally vigilant to campus extremism, Young Academic has learnt. This enthralling student news reveals that although the protection of freedom of speech is still extremely important, educational institutions must be aware of the threat posed by extremist groups.
Universities UK has released an updated guidance report following the furore that followed the 2009 arrest of a British student accused of attempting to blow up a plane…
The survey, which was answered by 40 of their 133 members, revealed that half had regular contact with counter-terrorism officers and pretty much all of them had regular contact with the police.
This advice comes as the under-fire government and Universities UK look to deradicalise universities in the United Kingdom. Many extremist groups are born from campus societies in which misled students can collaborate to plan terrorist acts.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged underwear bomber, is accused of attempting to blow up a plane flying to the United States on Christmas Day in 2009. Having studied at University College London (UCL) closely involved with its Islamic Society, he is seen as symptomatic of a wider spread problem.
An inquiry by UCL found no evidence that the Nigerian had been radicalised while at university but he may very well have had access to radical literature.
The British-based man Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, who blew himself up in Sweden last December, had been a student in Britain – this time in Luton and is another example of the issue.
Just before Christmas, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs Britain needed to do more to “de-radicalise our universities” so is bound to be in support of Universities UK’s initiative.
The updated guidance from the body sets out the legal duties universities have to protect freedom of speech and also to promote equality and security.
Professor Malcolm Grant, chairman of the review panel, had the following to say about the scheme; “The survey findings confirm how seriously universities take their responsibilities in relation to the safety and security of their staff and students, alongside their obligations to protect and promote free speech and academic freedom.
“Universities are open institutions where academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental to their functioning.
“Views expressed within universities, whether by staff, students or visitors, may sometimes appear to be extreme or even offensive. However, unless views can be expressed they cannot also be challenged.
“But all freedoms have limits imposed by law and these considerations are vital to ensure the safety and well being of students, staff and the wider community.
“Universities must continue to ensure that potentially aberrant behaviour is challenged and communicated to the police where appropriate.”
But he added that it was not the job of universities to impede the freedom of speech “through additional censorship, surveillance or invasion of privacy”.