Monday 1 February 2016
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Messages to staff and students
Further links will be provided as updates are published.
What is Prevent?
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a new statutory duty for universities to have "due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism". Following this, the Government’s Prevent strategy, which focuses on preventing people being drawn into terrorism, was updated and now requires all universities to intervene when they identify individuals at risk of being drawn into terrorism, and begin a series of measures which aim to safeguard and divert people away from the risk they face before illegality occurs.
In common with all universities, QMUL is obliged to continue to engage with the Government’s Prevent strategy and to take a range of steps in order to meet this duty.
The Government’s Prevent strategy is here: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/97976/prevent-strategy-review.pdf
QMUL’s response to the new duty in the Prevent strategy
The Principal, Professor Simon Gaskell says: “Our approach has been to make measured and reasonable adjustments where appropriate to meet the new duties, while always ensuring that our values and the defining characteristics of a university – and of our university in particular – are carefully maintained and protected.”
At QMUL, a task and finish group of staff and student representatives has been convened in order to examine the obligations we have, review our current policies and undertake a risk assessment in consultation with student and staff representatives. The group is also coordinating a programme of training for staff with safeguarding duties – please see below for more detailed information about this.
The group is made up of members of the Queen Mary Senior Executive (management team), the Professional Services Leadership Team (including Directors of Students Services, IT Services, Estates and Facilities, etc), the Queen Mary Students’ Union executive and members of staff with responsibility for campus security.
They have consulted with the Queen Mary Senior Executive, staff trade unions, student representatives from Queen Mary Students’ Union, and Senate, which consists of academic staff from around QMUL. They have also provided regular updates to Council (QMUL’s governing body) which is required to provide assurance to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) about QMUL’s engagement with the Prevent strategy.
How do we support freedom of speech?
As an institution of higher education which sees academic freedom as central to its activity, QMUL is committed to taking such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students, employees and visiting speakers. This means that we tolerate a wide range of views, political as well as academic, even when they are unpopular, controversial or provocative. This does not mean that the right to freedom of speech has no boundaries. It is limited, for example, by laws to protect national security and public safety; to protect vulnerable individuals from being drawn into extremism; for the prevention of disorder or crime; for the protection of the reputation or rights of others; and to prevent the disclosure of information received in confidence. A significant strand in the regulatory framework is the duty to promote good relations between persons of different racial groups.
The task and finish group and the Queen Mary Senior Executive have reviewed QMUL’s existing Freedom of Expression Policy in the light of the Government’s most recent guidance on the Prevent strategy and have concluded that no changes are required to QMUL’s approach or processes for securing freedom of speech. The issue will be considered by Senate, which has in its terms of reference a responsibility to support and foster academic freedom.
Could this impact on someone’s studies or learning experience?
We don’t anticipate any changes to the way we teach, research or provide student services.
Updating QMUL’s safeguarding policy and providing supplementary training for staff with responsibility for safeguarding and oversight of events
QMUL is required to provide appropriate training and guidance for members of staff whose role involves safeguarding students or organising events with external speakers. This involves being aware of risks and signs of problems for students and knowing how to address them for the protection and benefit of the student. The safeguarding policy is been updated and a link to the revised one will be here once it has been published.
Several colleagues have already completed the training and the expectation is that everyone who requires the WRAP (Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent) training will complete it by the end of March 2016.
What more are we doing?
QMUL is developing a risk assessment and implementation plan to meet our obligations regarding Prevent, and this is the next step in this process. More information will be published in due course.