Understanding UK university academic staff attitudes towards recognising and responding to student radicalisation

Julia Pearce, Lasse Lindekilde, David Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Higher Education institutions in England, Scotland and Wales have an obligation under the 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act to protect students from being drawn into terrorism. This legislation has proved controversial, with concerns about the securitisation of education, as well as fears of over-reporting which could stigmatise individuals or communities. Despite the significance of the Act to the education sector and concerns about the implications of compelling educators to report radicalisation concerns, there is limited empirical research exploring how teachers and academics have engaged with the policy. The evidence for Higher Education settings is particularly limited. This study employed a survey experiment with 1003 academics working in British universities to examine willingness and ability to recognise and respond to student radicalisation. Our data provides no evidence for over-reporting. Rather, it suggests that academics teaching in British universities are uncertain about radicalisation risk and ambivalent about reporting concerns. Reporting ambivalence is driven by lack of confidence about appropriate reporting thresholds, concerns about negative consequences of reporting and free speech values. Previous experience of dealing with a student of concern and Prevent training are associated with increased commitment to reporting concerns. The results suggest that Prevent training could be enhanced by targeting more experienced academics and tackling concerns about the tensions between the Prevent duty and freedom of speech policies and values. However, for this training to be effective it is essential that it is credible for an audience that values rigorous debate and is used to engaging with deep thinking on challenging issues.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jul 2023


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