Students at the University of London are being recruited on campus by a church widely held to be a cult.
The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) is reportedly approaching students at University College London, the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Recruits have tried to set up societies within student unions.
Clare Taylor, general secretary of the LSE's student union, said the ICOC had tried to register an associate society called Friends of Hope. "They claimed that they had 150 students signed up," she said. "We decided to send those students some information about religious groups. Most people decided that they didn't want anything to do with them, so they haven't been able to register as a society."
Allan Angus, vice-president of the University of London Union, said: "We don't have a problem with differing beliefs but people should be aware that they might be getting into something that they might not be able to get out of."
The church, he said, had tried to recruit students over the past few years. "There has been a boom this year. It could be connected with world events - possibly people are feeling more insecure."
John Foreman, dean of students at UCL, said: "Our normal response when this (recruiting students on campus and on the streets) happens is to write to the church." He said no complaints had been made recently about activity on campus.
ICOC elder Adrian Hill told The THES : "We are a very conservative church and we are certainly not a cult. We encourage anybody who is one of our members to talk to others... but 'recruiting' is a sinister word to use."
He denied that members were pressurised not to leave.