The government has announced new rules today that will legally require universities and colleges to monitor and counter extremist activities among their students.
The new rules, set to go into effect next week, will force universities to “put in place specific policies to stop extremists radicalising students on campuses, tackle gender segregation at events and support students at risk of radicalisation, as part of the government’s plans to counter extremism”.
The government is requiring academic institutions to have “proper risk assessment processes for speakers” to “ensure those espousing extremist views do not go unchallenged”.
According to Number 10, “at least 70 events featuring hate speakers” were held at UK universities last year.
Rejecting criticisms that the new measures will limit free speech, Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“All public institutions have a role to play in rooting out and challenging extremism. It is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom, it is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish.
“Schools, universities and colleges, more than anywhere else, have a duty to protect impressionable young minds and ensure that our young people are given every opportunity to reach their potential,” he added.
Universities minister Jo Johnson has also written to the National Union of Students (NUS) as part of the government’s efforts, saying: “Universities represent an important arena for challenging extremist views.”