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Executive summary

Purpose

1. This document sets out the findings and recommendations from an evaluation of HEFCE’s role as monitor of the Prevent duty in higher education in England, and of the framework in which HEFCE monitors the relevant higher education bodies (RHEBs) who are subject to its monitoring.

2. The evaluation comprised four main elements: a survey of relevant higher education bodies, structured interviews with key higher education stakeholder bodies, structured interviews with relevant government departments, and internal reflections from within HEFCE (including an internal audit).

Key points

3. The feedback provided has in general been very positive and supportive of HEFCE’s role in and approach to monitoring.

4. Over 80 per cent of respondents to the provider survey either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘somewhat agreed’ that HEFCE’s approach to monitoring had been risk-based and proportionate.

5. Respondents particularly welcomed the consultative approach that HEFCE had taken to developing its approach to monitoring.

6. Respondents felt that HEFCE had delivered a monitoring framework that effectively provided assurance to Government of the approach the higher education sector is taking to implementing the Prevent duty.

7. There was a clear recognition by Government of the positive engagement by RHEBs with the monitoring framework, and of the significant steps taken to implement policies and processes which met the requirements of the statutory guidance. Areas of good practice demonstrated by HEFCE included the establishment of the Prevent External Advisory Group, and the running of workshops (in particular the ‘What works’ series) and the dissemination of the resulting guidance.

8. 80 per cent of RHEBs either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘somewhat agreed’ that HEFCE’s approach had led to effective relationships with RHEBs.

9. 75 per cent of RHEBs either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘somewhat agreed’ that HEFCE had responded to feedback in shaping its approach to monitoring.

10. More than 80 per cent of respondents to the survey either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘somewhat agreed’ that HEFCE had effectively communicated its expectations and assessment outcomes to RHEBs.

11. 70 per cent of RHEBs either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘somewhat agreed’ that HEFCE had successfully influenced the higher education sector in meeting its obligations under Prevent.

12. The audit undertaken by the consultants EY noted a generally sound system of internal control over the plans and governance process that HEFCE has put in place to fulfil the monitoring function over Prevent.

13. A number of areas were identified where HEFCE could improve. Broadly these relate to ensuring clarity and consistency in its engagement with RHEBs, facilitating the sharing of positive practice and case studies, and providing a forum to identify and help address concerns faced by the sector through further guidance and resources, where possible. The full details of recommendations and actions already being taken forward are identified at the end of this report.

Action required

14. This report is for information only.

Date: 1 August 2017

Ref: 2017/12

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