University guide to tackling extremism launched

New guidance promoting community cohesion and preventing violent extremism in further education (FE) colleges has been announced by minister for further and higher education Bill Rammell.

The proposals, released today, call on FE colleges to play a greater role in protecting students and staff from those who wish to intimidate and promote violence.

“Our shared values which bind communities together belong to everyone in Britain; they are not possessed by any one race, creed or nationality. The further education sector’s task is to foster these values in their institutions,” Mr Rammell said.

“Colleges have a unique role to play in fostering our shared values of openness, free debate and tolerance.

“Many colleges already play an important role in their communities and are ideally placed to expand their work into reinforcing shared value and protecting their students and staff from those who seek to exploit the freedom we all benefit from in the country to promote violence or incite racial hatred,” he added.

The new guidance is the first time the government has made proposals on this issue.

Sue Dutton, acting chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said on the matter: “Organisations such as colleges, schools and universities have a duty to their students and to society at large to promote community cohesion.

“These proposals contribute to continuing college efforts to take all appropriate action for fostering shared community vales, including dealing with extremism in any form,” she said.

The proposals are part of a consultation into the role of further education in promoting community cohesion.

The consultation highlighted a number of key areas including, creating space for free and open debate as well as breaking down segregation among different student communities by supporting inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue.

It also called for measures to ensure students and campuses were free from bullying, harassment and intimidation.

And that vulnerable students were offered appropriate advice and guidance and that staff and students were aware of their roles in preventing violent extremism.