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University of Aberdeen made 'no referrals' to counter-terrorism scheme

FOI request reveals no referrals to Prevent since 2017

By: Anttoni J. Numminen

Bomb Disposal vehicle on King Street September 2019, image unrelated - Photograph: AJN

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Gaudie has revealed that between 2017 and 2020 the University of Aberdeen (UoA) made "no referrals" to the government’s counter-terrorism scheme Prevent.

Prevent, a scheme introduced by the UK Government in 2015 to combat terrorism, requires public bodies such as universities and schools to refer individuals it fears are at risk of being “drawn into terrorism”.

The University of Aberdeen’s Prevent strategy states that “the risk of extremist activity at the University is kept under constant review as our duty of care to students and staff is of the utmost importance”. The strategy covers areas of University life such as events, speakers and “applies to all UoA staff and students when in the UK”.

UoA Prevent strategy - Screengrab

The Gaudie’s FOI request also sought the University’s annual budget for the Prevent strategy and details of who had made referrals, on what basis they were made, the ethnic groups and the religion/faith of those referred.

However, according to the University “There is no specific budget allocated for Prevent as the work is integrated into the job descriptions of staff who cover various roles” and as there had been no referrals within the timeframe requested by the Gaudie, it was not possible to answer the latter questions.

UoA Prevent strategy, student referral process - screengrab

Though there have been no referrals by UoA since 2017, it is not known how many have been made before then. Similar FOI requests were made to multiple other Scottish universities, but none have responded as of the time of publication. Under the FOI (Scotland) Act, they have until the 6th of November to respond.


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