Investigation shows students’ essays being reported under anti-terrorism laws

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Tara Gandhi
Editor-in-Chief

SRC President Scott Kirby expressed concern for the precedent after the investigation, and spokespeople from multiple unions have spoken out against the use of Prevent on campus.

Some students from De Montfort, Reading, and Wolverhampton have had essays reported under counter-terror programme Prevent, according to an investigation by The Independent.

Experts and activists have spoken out about the implications of stifling free speech on campus. Last January an investigation was launched into the Prevent programme after allegations of it being discriminatory towards Muslims and violating freedom of speech. Spokespeople from the University College Union (UCU), National Union of Students (NUS) and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) have all spoken out against the use of Prevent on campus, citing its impact on free speech.

The investigation found no evidence of essays from the University of Glasgow being reported.

A spokesperson from the University said: “We absolutely endorse and will always uphold the principle of free speech and the ability for students, staff and others to express themselves within the law on campus. UK universities have a statutory duty, along with all other public bodies ‘to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. We do this through a Prevent Working Group which provides information and training and maintains an effective dialogue with the SRC.”

SRC President Scott Kirby expressed concern for the precedent set in Reading, Leicester and Wolverhampton.

Kirby said: “‘As centres of education and research, universities should be welcoming places that allow freedom of speech and engagement in various spheres of academic intrigue. Stifling this through imprudent surveillance not only encourages a negative staff-student relationship, but creates one of suspicion and distance.

“There is a balance to be had between safeguarding and enabling free speech, and as far as I am aware at Glasgow, students’ academic work is not injudiciously investigated or reported. That being said, I will be asking the question to ensure we don’t have a repeat situation comparable to Reading or Wolverhampton.”