Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy

Understanding the impact of counter terrorism policy on the structures of democratic space within higher education institutions

Principal Investigator Narzanin Massoumi

Funder: British Academy

Duration: January 2017 – December 2019

Value of Award: £255,588

Project rationale and aims

About the project

Universities play an important role in public life; they offer a cultural, social and political infrastructure for creating knowledge and innovation, exchanging ideas, and opportunities for a variety of social interactions. Yet, the government is concerned that universities offer spaces that radicalise students. Despite the policy interest in this area, there is very little existing research on the university as political space, especially for student activism. Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (CTS) it is now a statutory duty for Relevant Higher Education Bodies (RHEBs) to 'prevent people from being drawn into terrorism'. This policy requires university staff to monitor the ideologies and activities of students considered 'at risk of vulnerability' to violent and non-violent extremism. This Prevent Duty has practical implications for the nature of the university as space for critical thinking, knowledge innovation and cultural exchange. This research thus asks how the 'free space' of the university has been constituted or affected by counter terrorism policy.

Proposed outputs

It is intended that the following outputs will be delivered by the end of the project:

•    Peer-reviewed journal articles
•    Monograph, ‘The University as a Public Space: counter terrorism, social movements and higher education in the UK’
•    Project website
•    Policy briefs
•    Policy report on how Prevent duty impacts on the Equality duty in Higher Education

Presentations on the research will be delivered to a number of national and international academic conferences. Seminars and policy events will engage users, policy makers, practitioners, staff and students and will be held in conjunction with the IPR.

Social media will be utilised throughout the project to communicate knowledge about the project and articles will be submitted to major news outlets, encouraging response and engagement from the public.

Find out more about this project contact:

Dr Narzanin Massoumi