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New regulatory framework will usher in "golden age" for HE, says OfS chair

The new regulatory framework for universities will have “an unflinching focus” on students but not reduce English  higher education to a “crude transaction between buyer and seller” said Sir Michael Barber as the government published a 181-page consultation report on its proposals.

Think tank report calls for fees to be capped as low as £5,000

Tuition fees should be capped at as low as £5,000 and the interest rate on student loans lowered to match inflation levels, according to a report published by the free-market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

HESA releases details on the future of student data

The Higher Education Statistics Agency has published the specification of student data to be returned by higher education providers from the 2019/20 academic year. The release represents the biggest change to the way student data is collected since the Cheltenham agency’s first data collection in 1994.

Study highlights dissatisfaction among students with multiple disadvantages

Over a quarter of students from multiple disadvantaged groups are dissatisfied with their non-academic higher education experience, new research shows.

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HEi-think: An evidence-based approach to tackling radicalisation on campus

As radicalisation on campus hits the headlines again with news of the identity and university education of Islamic State executioner "Jihadi John",  the Reverend Dr Paul Fitzpatrick, chaplain and Prevent co-ordinator at Cardiff Metropolitan University, outlines protocols developed by his institution to tackle radicalisation that have been approved by the Home Office and are to be rolled out to universities across the UK.

 

Even before the publication of the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, there were at least seven - often contradictory - legislative requirements placed on universities for tackling extremism on campus.

At Cardiff Met, we quickly realised that there was little current research that directly helped us design and implement our own Prevent agenda and policies. So we as a team would need to conduct our own research, particularly exploring how vulnerable students were groomed and radicalised.

From our research we have developed a Prevent policy that will be run out across Wales, and then templated by the Home Office for England. It is the result of a realistic understanding of the individual risk to our universities.

The process and policies in the framework we have produced have to encompass the mundane as well as the difficult.

This week, for instance, I met a Muslim student to talk about her project on terrorist risk management within public events.  Using the protocols set out in our Prevent policy, I guided her through the process of applying for ethical approval and registered her work with our ‘Security Sensitive Databased” to ensure her safety and the reputational security of the university.

In another example of the Prevent policy in action, I recently asked the International Office Welfare Team to review the list of students from conflict zones. Students from such areas are regarded as particularly vulnerable to potential radicalisation and manipulation.

One of the team had just got back from visiting the flat of a group of Ukrainian and Russian students who have deliberately chosen to live together to express their mutual respect and their support for peace keeping efforts in the region. She reported that all was well.

To give staff the tools to deal with these kinds of situations, we have developed a very broad and evidenced based training package for all staff.  Underpinned by an e-module, the training is lecture based and includes the grooming process, risk assessment, radical ideology and a Police briefing on risk assessment. Staff are encouraged to engage fully with the process and initial feedback has been very positive.

It is a comfortable option to quote ‘free speech’ or moral/ethical complexity to justify none engagement with this agenda, and whilst acknowledging the real difficulties these dilemmas present, we have clearly chosen a different approach. Our response has been governed by what we consider to be our lead responsibility; the protection of our students and staff from those who would hurt them.

Dr Paul Fitzpatrick
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