Academics urged to join battle against terrorism

October 20, 2006

The Government's secret guidance amounts to a call to arms for university staff in the battle against terrorism.

The 18-page draft guidance, seen by The Times Higher , seeks to recruit academics, librarians and administrative staff as the eyes and ears of the UK's security services. What does the document say and what might it mean for you?

Campus relations

* Promoting Good Campus Relations: Recognising Islamist Extremism on Campus starts by establishing that it is for "all university staff". Guidance should touch those "dealing with policy implementation as well as those who have daily contact with students"

* Campus staff are expected to volunteer information on students to Special Branch - the police's intelligence service - rather than wait to be contacted by them

* University staff may be reluctant to do so for fear that they would be "collaborating with the 'secret police'"

* Special Branch to develop this partnership to a point at which universities have the confidence to contact local Special Branch Single Points of Contact (Spoc).

Islamic societies

* Academics to pay close attention to university Islamic societies and to check on the speakers they invite

* It suggests campus staff promote dialogue between Islamic societies and other student societies

* University staff should draw up advice on the roles and responsibilities of university imams, including security checks if necessary

* It asks institutions to ensure that literature written in foreign languages, on posters for example, can be translated quickly and easily.

Community relations

* Universities should promote "volunteering initiatives" between students and local communities

* Students from "segregated" backgrounds are "more likely to hold radical views" than those who have "integrated into wider society"

* Universities should have a home students officer ensuring those students living close to home are integrated into the university experience

* It urges the provision of appropriate facilities to "avoid marginalisation of students".

The Times Higher has come up with some possible scenarios

What do you do if...

* You spot a student looking at suspicious computer images?

* A student tells you they are worried that the Islamic society has invited a speaker with extremist views?

* A student hands in a politics essay containing extremist opinions?

* A student tells you the university imam is preaching extreme views?

* You believe an impressionable first-year student is being unduly influenced by older more radical students?

* A Muslim student has borrowed a number of books on terrorist movements?

* A student leaves behind a "suspicious-looking" pamphlet not written in English.

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