The Prevent Duty in UK higher education: Insights from freedom of information requests

Andrew Whiting, Ben Campbell, Keith Spiller, Imran Awan

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Drawing upon 157 responses to Freedom of Information Requests sent to Higher Education Institutions across England, Scotland and Wales, this article explores how the Prevent Duty has been enacted within UK higher education. The article shows how the duty has seen considerable repositioning and restructuring across the sector, conflated counterterrorism with safeguarding and introduced further bureaucracy. The article also explores the low number of Channel referrals, the justifications provided for these and the several instances in which institutions refused to disclose this information. We argue that these disproportionate developments have brought harmful depoliticising effects while also enhancing the mechanisms of surveillance and governance. Furthermore, we argue that our findings demonstrate the value in Freedom of Information Requests as a means of approach and suggest a continued need for critical researchers to explore the specific functioning of the duty to complement the broader critiques that are levelled at the policy as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-532
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020

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