Campus links with terrorism 'overstated'

Links between terrorism and universities have been overstated, a committee of MPs has concluded, but some institutions are guilty of complacency on the issue.

February 9, 2012

A report published this week by the Home Affairs Select Committee, Roots of Violent Radicalisation, says the internet plays a far greater role than universities, prisons or mosques. It adds that the focus placed on university campuses by the government's Prevent strategy has been "disproportionate".

Although about 30 per cent of people convicted for al-Qaeda-associated terrorist offences in the UK between 1999 and 2009 had attended university or college, the committee says there is "seldom concrete evidence to confirm that this is where they were radicalised".

Pete Mercer, vice-president (welfare) of the National Union of Students, welcomed the report, which he said "makes clear that the link between universities and violent extremism is weak".

"We will continue to exert pressure to ensure that all students are safe from hate and discrimination on campus," he added.

However, the report accuses some universities of being "complacent" about their role in confronting violent extremist views.

It adds: "Universities are ideal places to confront extremist ideology, [but] we are not convinced that extremists on campus are always subject to equal and robust challenge."

Examples of radicalisation highlighted in the report include Omar Sharif, who, having been radicalised during his first year at King's College London after he attended Hizb-ut-Tahrir meetings, was involved in a suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv in 2003.

The committee also cites the case of Anthony Garcia, who was convicted for his role in a 2004 bomb plot: the report says he had attended religious talks in the late 1990s at the University of East London Islamic Society.

It recommends that there should be a contact point within government for student unions and university administrators to assist them in making difficult decisions about speakers on campus.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy