“Tolerating the Intolerant”: A Report on ‘Students not Suspects’

By Richard Black

A new report launched by Student Rights, a project of The Henry Jackson Society, has found that the Government and UK universities are consistently failing to do enough to combat extremism on campus. The National Union of Students (NUS) campaign ‘Students Not Suspects’ exacerbates, and even facilitates, this problem.

The report calls for renewed efforts in preventing extremism and radicalisation, which continue to pose significant threats in higher education.

The report, “Tolerating the Intolerant”: A Report on ‘Students not Suspects’finds that:

  • The NUS’s ‘Students Not Suspects’ has significant influence on university campuses, and this has been built on the back of effective publicity campaigns involving panel discussions, workshops, protests, and social media.
  • Under the pretence of wanting to abolish the Government’s counter-terrorism Prevent strategy, prominent ‘Students Not Suspects’ activists have hosted extremist speakers at a series of one-sided events.
  • Through the events hosted by ‘Students Not Suspects’, the NUS has forged close ties to extremist-linked organisations including CAGEIHRCMEND and Friends of Al-Aqsa.
  • In order to defeat extremism on campus, the Government, alongside universities, must develop a positive and visible counter-narrative that will ensure intolerant views in higher education are continually challenged.

Research Manager of Student Rights and author of the report, Richard Black, summarised his findings, commenting that:

“While the NUS’s ‘Students Not Suspects’ campaign has not succeeded in its overall aim of ‘scrapping’ Prevent, it has encouraged numerous student unions to pass motions boycotting the policy. It has spread misinformation and betrayed students, staff and local authorities. Far from moderating its message, ‘Students Not Suspects’ has also developed ever closer links to extremist organisations such as CAGE and MEND. This divisive campaign continues to alienate moderate students and further undermines the credibility and legitimacy of the NUS amongst government, policy makers and wider civil society.”


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