The counter-terrorism and security bill 2014-15 and the 'Prevent Duty'

When people talk about the ‘Prevent duty’ they are referring to Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 20151 which contains a duty on specified authorities including colleges and universities to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. For more information see here

UCU has major concerns both about the intent and the unintended consequences of this clause which we believe will:

  • have a chilling effect upon debate and academic freedom within UK universities and colleges
  • create an atmosphere of mistrust within institutions and between staff and students which is at odds with academic values
  • add a significant administrative burden to staff and their institutions
  • create a legal duty upon institutions and staff which is vague and not achievable
  • lead to a deterioration in the reputation of UK further and higher education around the world and a reduction in the attractiveness of this country to international staff and students.

The UCU's view is that draconian crackdowns on the rights of academics and students will not achieve the ends the government says it seeks. The best response to acts of terror against UK civilians is to maintain and defend an open, democratic society in which discriminatory behaviour of any kind is effectively challenged and the right for colleges and universities to debate difficult and unpopular issues is a vital part of this.

At  Brighton, UCU will be working closely with the student's union to challenge the policy and defend staff and students from its negative impacts.