This week, tens of thousands of students will begin at university. Yet rather than the pleasure of university, the focus is once again on the dangers posed by the presence of radical speakers on British campuses. New steps are needed to strike the right balance between freedom of expression, and safeguarding young minds from extremism.
In March 2015, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA) imposed a statutory duty on universities and other public bodies to pay “due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism”. The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) reports that almost all universities are fulfilling their formal obligation to do so.
Yet this is only half the story. A new report published on Thursday by Student Rights, reveals that in the last academic year, 112 student events were scheduled that either featured a speaker who meets the government definition of an extremist, or were arranged by an organisation with a history of promoting speakers who do.