Last week, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly not only told Universities UK to crack down on extremism but also indicated her desire to see hi-tech companies and venture capitalists clustering around universities and feeding off their research ("V-cs told to root out extremism", September 16).
This combination of clamping down on extremists while forging closer ties between universities and corporations is likely to affect many groups pursuing radical (but peaceful) agendas. A group of peaceful demonstrators (the "George Fox 6") who staged a protest at a Corporate Venturing conference at Lancaster University last year face criminal charges of aggravated trespass and could be served with an antisocial behaviour order.
The Government seems to be encouraging an environment in which universities forge closer links with corporations, while those who peacefully protest against some of these links are threatened with criminal prosecution and ASBOs.
Norman Fairclough, Steve Fleetwood and four others