Since 2006, the British government and the media have paid increasing attention to muslim students at British universities following several high-profile cases where students or graduates took part in terrorist attacks or were convicted on terrorist-related charges. Several universities, prominent unions and Muslim groups have responded critically to these charges, accusing the government of initiating a witch-hunt against Muslims comparable with McCarthyism.
There are some 90,000 Muslims presently studying at British universities. While several British Muslim students have indeed turned to terrorism, the issue is bigger than terrorism itself. The ideas, people and groups that individuals come into contact with during their university years inevitably help shape the rest of their lives. What Muslim students are thinking and doing now, and how they are perceived by their non-Muslim peers, will shape British society for at least a generation to come.
This report aims to improve public understanding of the issues surrounding Islam on campus and to discover the extent of Islamic radicalism at universities by asking students themselves. It is based on a YouGov poll of students opinions as well as on the ground research into a dozen university Islamic societies, exploring the views and experiences of Muslim and non-Muslim students on UK campuses during the academic year 2007/2008. The results show that Muslim students hold opinions and attitudes which are broad and varied, giving cause both for hope and concern.