Prevent Watch

Higher Education, Prevent and Academic Freedom in the UK

In this chapter from the newly published book Advancing Racial Equality in Higher Education, John Holmwood – who co-authored The People’s Review of Prevent and the 2023 Response to the Shawcross Review – unpacks the relationship between Prevent, HEIs and academic freedom.

Holmwood asserts that the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023 that applies only to universities and colleges in England was supported by right-wing “think tanks” and lobbyists who argued about a “worrying cancel culture” within higher education.

But in reality, there is little evidence of such a problem at HEIs in the UK, nor is there enough evidence that existing legislation on academic freedom as it applies in other jurisdictions is insufficient.

In the background, however, another form of “cancel culture” has been readily accepted by universities – and other public bodies – as a result of Prevent. and yet the impact of Prevent on academic freedom is something that is largely missing in discussions.

Read the full chapter here.

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