Prevent Watch

The Prevent Duty in UK Higher Education: Insights from 157 FOI Requests

How the Prevent Duty has impacted UK higher education forms the crux of this report based on 157 FOI requests, and published in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations in December 2020. Drawing upon responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests sent to Higher Education Institutions across England, Scotland and Wales, the article shows how the duty has seen considerable repositioning and restructuring across the sector, conflated counter terrorism with safeguarding and introduced further bureaucracy. The article also explores the low number of Channel referrals, the justifications provided for these and the several instances in which institutions refused to disclose this information.  The authors argue that these disproportionate developments have brought harmful depoliticising effects while also enhancing the mechanisms of surveillance and governance. Furthermore, the findings demonstrate the value in FOI Requests as a means of approach and suggest a continued need for critical researchers to explore the specific functioning of the duty in this way, to complement the broader critiques of counter-extremism policy. To balance this article with case study-based evidence, it may be read alongside the Open Society Justice Initiative’s report ‘Eroding Trust’ (2016) based on 87 interviews, and the Islamophobia on Campus report (2018), which draws from 578 responses to the Muslim Students Survey. The journal article is available HERE. Picture by Dom Fou on Unsplash.

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