New moves to combat extremism on campus

July 15, 2005

Universities should set up "response teams" of senior staff to react to extremist incidents, according to new official guidance that warns of heightened tension and intolerance on campus.

The guidelines - which will be published by Universities UK and the Standing Conference of Principals this summer - refer to "an increased level of reported instances of extremist and intolerance activity in a higher eduction institution context".

The latest draft, which refers to the impact of September 11 and the Madrid bombings on increasing tensions, will be revised following last week's attacks in London.

Senior sources, meanwhile, have revealed that a "mechanism" exists for universities to communicate concerns about extremist activity via the Home and Foreign Offices to the Secret Services - and that it has already been used.

This week it emerged that one of the alleged suicide bombers behind the July 7 attacks, Shehzad Tanweer, was a sports science graduate from Leeds Metropolitan University - although there is no evidence that any of the four were involved with any campus groups.

On Tuesday, police carried out a controlled explosion at a property in Alexandra Grove in the Burley student quarter in Leeds after evacuating the area. Simon Lee, Leeds Metropolitan's vice-chancellor, said: "We appreciate the media and others not making generalisations about our 41,000 students or about particular faith communities in Leeds from the actions of those responsible for the awful bombings in London."

Ceri Nursaw from the City and Regional Department at Leeds University said:

"We are not aware of any extremist recruitment activity on our campus and the students, who are very self-regulatory, would bring such activity to our attention very quickly."

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