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Campus extremism guidance won't solve all problems

17 November 2006

Guidance issued to colleges and universities on combating extremism on campus is an improvement on previous leaked drafts but won't solve all the problems and doesn't give sufficient emphasis to improving campus relations, warned leaders of the UCU today.

In a joint statement with a number of other organisations UCU said it took seriously the threat of terrorism and believed 'that all those who would advocate or carry out attacks like those in London last July, must be isolated, identified and stopped.'

Paul Mackney, UCU joint general secretary said: 'Universities and colleges must have a robust strategy for defeating racism and Islamophobia. And they could be a lot more pro-active in engaging with the communities they serve. This is essential to maintain trust and confidence between staff students and institutions.

'You just need straightforward procedures on what to do if anyone suspects violent extremism or terrorist activity.

'But radicalism must not be conflated with terrorism. Institutions must maintain a moderating environment where discussion flourishes, where people learn about different cultures and where ideas can be explored, challenged and debated.'

Sally Hunt, UCU joint general secretary said: 'Academic freedom is the key to this debate. The advice to vice chancellors can only be dealt with through collective bargaining with the trade unions who represent staff.

'In higher education and further education it is not acceptable for individuals, staff or students, to be asked to compromise their duty to teach or their wish to learn through debate and argument because of this advice.

'We expect all institutions to respect that and take these views from government forward in that way. Any other approach will fail, damaging academics' freedom, industrial relations and most importantly, freedom of speech.'

Last updated: 15 December 2015