Higher Education

Three levels of terror risk for colleges in the UK

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All colleges are going to have to assess what risk they face from violent extremism and terrorism, according to guidance issued by the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (Dius). However, universities, which were recently issued with similar guidance, are not required to carry out risk assessments. This is not because universities are in a stronger position to resist the government. It is because ministers reckon that universities have already conducted such assessments, according to a spokesman for Dius.

The document has been jointly prepared with the Association of Colleges. Its authors have been careful to place the emphasis as much on 'promoting community cohesion' as preventing extremism. The guidance for universities superseded an earlier version published in November 2006.

The FE document is the first aimed at colleges. That is why is has been launched as a consultation document. The consultation closes in mid-May. According to the guidance document, the assessment process will let a college determine which of three states of risk it is in at any time: level one – a 'universal' state, in which the risk is minimal but where colleges would provide activities 'which positively embrace community cohesion ideals;' level two – an 'at risk' state, where a college identifies specific risks and should take action to avoid them becoming incidents; and level three – an 'incident management' state, in which an incident is occurring. This would include, for instance, the arrest of a student under terrorism legislation.

The HE guidance document stated that universities would be expected to consult with staff before implementing it. The University and College Union was anxious for this condition to be included in the FE guidance.

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