Counter-terrorism - the Prevent duty

The Office for Students (OfS) monitors what higher education providers do to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.

What is the Prevent duty?

The Prevent duty aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

The government created two sets of statutory guidance to support the strategy, one of which is specifically for higher education bodies.

The government has set out our monitoring role under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.

What do providers have to do?

To comply with the Prevent duty, providers need to:

  • assess the risks associated with Prevent and draw up a plan to mitigate these
  • have effective welfare support systems, linking to DfE Prevent coordinators, local authorities or the police if necessary 
  • have systems for assessing and mitigating risks around external speakers and events on campus, while maintaining the existing duty to promote freedom of speech
  • arrange ongoing Prevent training for relevant staff
  • have an IT usage policy, and where appropriate a research policy, which cover the Prevent duty
  • engage with students and ensure that students' unions and societies are aware of policies concerning activities on campus.

Does Prevent apply to my organisation?

The Prevent duty applies to the governing bodies or proprietors of ‘relevant higher education bodies’ (RHEBs). 

Under the OfS, RHEBs are defined as:

  • providers that are registered with the OfS
  • providers that are not registered but have more than 250 higher education students - we define higher education students as those studying on a course that leads to a recognised higher education award in Schedule 6 of the Education Reform Act (1988)
  • providers that are designated for student support (e.g. for the purposes of ‘teach out’)
  • all the autonomous colleges, schools and halls of the Universities of Cambridge, Durham and Oxford.

Further education colleges

Ofsted, rather than the OfS, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Prevent duty by further education or sixth-form colleges.

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