Universities and counter-terrorism

​Universities have a role to play in the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism. But they must also be allowed to balance this against their duty to promote freedom of speech within the law.


Under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 UK universities have a statutory duty to have 'due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism'. It is important that universities are supported in meeting this duty but that they also remain spaces where controversial and sometimes offensive ideas can be explored and debated.

Securing freedom of spee​​ch within the law - ​we are working:

  1. To influence government to adopt a proportionate, reasonable and balanced approach to the role it asks universities to play in the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism

  2. To ensure that universities remain tolerant and intellectually stimulating spaces in which controversial and offensive ideas can be debated and challenged and freedom of speech within the law is secured

  3. To support universities in improving and sharing their expertise in preventing terrorism and violent extremism

In achieving these objectives, we work with a number of government departments and organisations including the Office for Students who monitor providers compliance in this area in England.

You can find more information about the higher education sectors duties in this area as well as guidance and training on the Safe Campus Communities website.

Guidance is also available on Freedom expression for higher education providers and students' unions in England and Wales from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.


Oversight of security-sensitive research material in UK universities: guidance

6 November 2019
This guidance concerns the storage and circulation of security sensitive research material, and offers recommendations for protecting researchers from inappropriate investigation by police authorities.

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Parliamentary briefing: Proposed statutory guidance relating to events on university campuses

29 May 2015
We expect that regulations will be laid to enforce a duty on universities by the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

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Parliamentary briefing: Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill – House of Lords Committee Stage

4 February 2015
This briefing covers a number of amendments to Part 5 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill which have been tabled for debate at Committee Stage in the House of Lords.

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Parliamentary briefing: Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill – Committee Stage

12 December 2014
Universities UK’s briefing for MPs for the Committee Stage of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.

Parliamentary briefing: Intellectual Property Bill – Committee Stage, House of Commons

29 January 2014
Universities UK supports Clause 20 of the Intellectual Property Bill which provides a qualified exemption from Freedom of Information requests for pre-publication research.

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Cyber security and universities: managing the risk

28 November 2013
The approaches to implementing cyber security in higher education institutions.

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External speakers in higher education institutions

22 November 2013
Guidance to provide practical assistance to universities in steering a path through all the different considerations, legal and otherwise, that arise in the context of inviting external speakers on campus.

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Freedom of speech on campus: rights and responsibilities in UK universities

18 February 2011
The role of universities in promoting academic freedom and freedom of speech, and some of the constraints surrounding these freedoms.

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Promoting good campus relations: dealing with hate crimes and intolerance

1 November 2005
Guidance produced to help higher education institutions deal with hate crimes and intolerance.



The team