The application of the Prevent duty to the university sector is different from its application to any other category of public body. This is for two related reasons:
- Section 31 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act requires universities to have particular regard to their pre-existing statutory obligation (under Section 43 (1) of the Education (No 2) Act 1986) to:
'take such steps as are reasonably practicable ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers'.
- The foundational importance of free expression to intellectual inquiry and therefore to the central purpose of a university, means a university cannot properly function in its absence.
This point is acknowledged in section 31 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act which notes that under the Prevent duty, universities must 'have particular regard' to both 'the duty to ensure freedom of speech' and 'the importance of academic freedom'.
The University is committed to ensuring that Prevent is implemented in such a way that does not:
- undermine free expression and academic freedom
- undermine the autonomy of academics, staff and students
- undermine confidence in relationships within the University
- result in discriminatory outcomes