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Executive summary

Purpose

1. This report sets out HEFCE’s findings from the first set of annual reports submitted by providers covering Prevent activity for the 2015-16 academic year.

Background

2. Since September 2015, ‘relevant higher education bodies’ (RHEBs) have been subject under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to a statutory duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. In doing so, they must have particular regard to their existing duties to ensure freedom of speech and consider academic freedom. Further information on how higher education providers should implement the duty is set out in two sets of statutory guidance published by the Government. 

3. The Government appointed HEFCE to monitor implementation of the duty across the higher education sector in England, currently covering 313 higher education providers. Alternative arrangements apply in Wales and Scotland. 

4. To demonstrate ‘due regard’ to the duty, higher education providers need to: 

  • have robust and appropriate policies and processes in place, responding to the Prevent duty statutory guidance
  • show that they are actively implementing and following these policies in practice.

5. HEFCE published a framework ‘Updated framework for the monitoring of the Prevent duty in higher education in England’ (HEFCE 2016/24) setting out its approach to monitoring whether higher education providers are having due regard to the duty through the following means: 

  1. A self-assessment exercise to judge initial readiness, followed by submission of detailed evidence demonstrating that properly thought through policies and processes are in place. 
  2. An ongoing process focused on monitoring the active implementation of these policies and procedures, ensuring that ‘procedures and policies are properly followed and applied’. This includes submitting an annual report to HEFCE, supplemented by risk-based in-depth reviews. 

6. A report, ‘Implementation of the Prevent duty in the higher education sector in England: 2015-16’ (HEFCE 2017/01), outlining our findings from the first year of implementation of the Prevent duty was published in January 2017. 

7. This report focuses on our findings from the first set of annual reports from providers on activity for the 2015-16 academic year and has resulted in one of three outcomes:

  1. Demonstrates due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. For providers that fall into this category, we have concluded that policies and processes satisfy the requirements of the statutory guidance and that there is sufficient evidence of active implementation (taking into account the provider’s context). For some providers, this judgement was accompanied by minor feedback.
  2. Further evidence needed (this is a transitional category). For providers that fall into this category, we have concluded that policies and processes need improvement to satisfy requirements, or that further evidence is needed to demonstrate active implementation. Providers were given an opportunity to submit further evidence for re-assessment.
  3. Does not demonstrate due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. For providers that fall into this category, we have concluded that policies and processes do not satisfy requirements, or that there is inadequate or no evidence of active implementation or that there is significant evidence of non-implementation of policies and processes. Any providers that fall into this category are given a short window to provide further evidence. If this is not forthcoming, the provider is referred formally to the Department for Education to consider whether further formal action is needed.

Findings from our monitoring work 

8. We received annual reports from 313 providers subject to the Prevent duty. Since the initial assessment phase, eight providers are no longer subject to the Prevent duty for a variety of reasons, including for example the ceasing of specific course designation or a merger with another RHEB. These providers were therefore not required to submit annual reports. 

9. In our review of annual reports submitted and taking into account follow-up activity already undertaken, 95 per cent (298 providers) satisfied us that they were demonstrating due regard to the Prevent duty.

10. At the point of publication of this report, we require further evidence from a further 5 per cent (15 providers) that they are demonstrating due regard to the duty. These providers have been given a deadline to submit additional evidence of active implementation which will be re-assessed by HEFCE officers and a revised outcome given as appropriate. Some providers will receive a formal Prevent review meeting to gather additional evidence. 

11. No providers were assessed as not demonstrating due regard to the duty.

12. In general, the analysis of the annual reports demonstrates significant progress made by the sector in implementing the approaches set out in the initial phase of monitoring. This report includes a range of case studies of practice across the key themes of the Prevent duty guidance, including: 

  • welfare
  • events and speakers
  • engagement with local partners
  • co-ordination for Prevent including engagement with students
  • training
  • web filtering
  • arrangements in franchise partners. 

13. Issues arose in some areas of activity in individual providers and we are working with them to address these. 

Further work and forward look

14. We continue to ensure that our engagement strategy with providers is risk-based and reflects individual contexts. We are prioritising engagement with those providers from which we require further evidence that they are demonstrating due regard to the duty. 

15. We have recently completed an evaluation of our role as monitor for Prevent, overseen by our Prevent External Advisory Group. We will be taking forward a small number of recommendations arising from the review, particularly related to providing further support and guidance to the sector with the requirements for annual reporting, and continuing our work in supporting the sharing of practice in key areas relating to the duty. 

16. Training materials developed by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and Universities UK, and funded by HEFCE and the Department for Education, have been evaluated, and a number of recommendations are being implemented to refresh them and improve their usage. These will be available at the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year. 

17. We will continue our approach of reviewing specific areas of practice across the sector in relation to Prevent, and supporting the sharing of practice across different elements of the duty. 

18. Having now been through a first cycle of annual reporting, we have made some minor amendments to the monitoring framework for Prevent to ensure that it can act as a standalone, authoritative framework for future years, but have made no substantive changes to our approach nor to the expectations on providers. The full document is available at www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2017/201710/. 

19. We have also produced separate guidance relating specifically to annual reporting for activity in the 2016-17 academic year which is available at www.hefce.ac.uk/reg/prevent/framework.

Action required

20. This report is for information only.

Date: 1 August 2017

Ref: 2017/11

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of other relevant higher education bodies Prevent leads at relevant higher education bodies

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Governance, Administration, Student services, Information technology, Security, Chaplaincy, Students’ unions, Higher education policy, Counter-terrorism policy

Enquiries should be directed to:

HEFCE Prevent team, email: prevent@hefce.ac.uk