A Steering Group, chaired by the University Advocate and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality & Diversity, and comprised of representatives from the academic divisions, elected members of Congregation, UAS and the Conference of Colleges, oversees how the Prevent Duty is implemented at the University in the context of the University’s pre-existing statutory framework, including the Education Act 1986, the Education Reform Act 1988, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.
The Steering Group works closely with the Conference of Colleges Working Group on the Prevent Duty, chaired by the Warden of Wadham. These two groups were established in response to HEFCE’s decision to regulate and monitor separately the University and each of the Oxford colleges, which are separate legal entities. Congregation has confirmed its commitment to harmonising the policies and approaches across the collegiate University in accordance with the sentiment expressed by the Warden of Wadham who stated that:
“Prevent must not be implemented in such a way that it overrides those existing rights without which the University of Oxford could not function as a place of higher learning. These existing rights include the rights to free expression, academic freedom, autonomy, confidentiality, privacy and equal treatment under the law – it is vital that the University continues to assert the importance of those rights.”
HEFCE required universities to review particular policies and procedures in light of the Prevent duty. The Prevent Duty Steering Group ensured that recommendations for any changes to policies and procedures were considered, and where appropriate, approved by the relevant University committee(s). In July 2016, Council approved the University submission to HEFCE designed to show how the University was meeting its obligations under Prevent. Each college also submitted a return. Two changes were made to University policy: the Code of Practice on Meetings and Events was updated and the IT Regulations now state that 'users are not permitted to use university IT or network facilities … with the intention of drawing people into terrorism', as explicitly required by the new legislation. Council noted that any welfare concerns related to a student or member of staff being drawn into terrorism are to be addressed in the same way as any other welfare matter. The University and the colleges have agreed that only the Registrar is authorised to make an external referral under Prevent.
The Steering Group is committed to ensuring that the Prevent duty does not impact upon research, education, debate, discussion, teaching, or scholarship at Oxford, or affect Oxford’s academic core values and practices
Council will be conducting an annual review to ensure that changes to University regulations and procedures associated with the Prevent legislation, and any actions taken in relation to Prevent are not undermining, remain subject to, and are operating in a manner to positively secure and protect the rights of academics, students, staff, and visiting speakers under existing laws, including the Education (No 2) Act 1986, the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010, and data protection legislation.
The University has a Steering Group to oversee the implementation of the statutory duty. Membership of the group can be found on the Prevent Steering Group page. If you have questions about the work of the University Steering Group or the impact of the Prevent duty, or would like to provide feedback on how the duty is being implemented by the University, please email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.