New measures take campus extremism seriously

The announcement today from the Home Secretary of new powers designed to challenge the ability of extremists to target students is welcome evidence that the issue is being taken seriously.

A bill due to be published on Wednesday will mandate that universities, as well as schools and colleges, have policies in place to deal with the invitation of extremist speakers.

Part of a new statutory duty to challenge extremism, the plans could also see universities which repeatedly fail to prevent extremists from appearing on-campus compelled to act by government.

Here at Student Rights we have been documenting the high numbers of extreme or intolerant speakers invited to address students since our formation in 2009.

With the new academic year just a few months old the issue is as relevant today as then.

In the past month eleven events featuring extreme speakers have been identified – with three moved off-campus or cancelled.

During 2013, Student Rights saw 140 events featuring such speakers – and further lectures and talks due to take place in upcoming months continue to be uncovered.

Just today, it was reported the University of East London (UEL) had cancelled the homophobic Imran Ibn Mansur, yet his was only one of four events uncovered across the UK by Student Rights this week.

As such, we are glad to see that opposing these individuals will now be subject to greater scrutiny, and that there will be a more uniform response across the higher education sector.

Challenging extremists who seek to use our campuses to spread their ideas is vitally important, and anything which gives universities greater direction to do so should be seen as a positive move.

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