Britain issued new guidelines to universities on Friday on how to prevent Islamist radicals from recruiting students and preaching hatred on campus, the government’s latest bid to clamp down on militants.
The rules from Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell advise how staff should react if they suspect groups are circulating extremist literature to students or fear radical speakers are coming to campus.
“The guidance provides a recognition — that I believe must be faced squarely — that violent extremism in the name of Islam is a real, credible and sustained threat to the UK,” Rammell told journalists. “And that there is evidence of serious, but not widespread Islamist extremist activity in higher education institutions,” he said.
The minister said the new guidance to universities was “not about targeting one particular community. “It is about promoting safety within higher education institutions ... and about higher education providers taking their responsibilities for the safety and welfare of all their staff and students very seriously.”
The department of education said the guidance, based on events that have occurred in the past, follows talks with lecturers, government experts and law enforcement agencies. It also brings universities up to date on recent changes to the law, such as the Terrorism Act 2006.
Speaking on BBC television, Rammell said he disagreed with Anthony Glees, a professor of politics at Brunel University who last year issued more dire warnings about the threat of radicalism on campus.
Glees said that Rammell has taken “an important step forward” by telling universities, especially the “less prestigious universities to stop being in denial and to recognise there is a problem and the problem needs to be fixed.” However, “he should have gone further,” he added.
Faisal Hanjra of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) complained that the government had not asked Muslim students about the guidelines, saying extremism must be tackled through open dialogue.