Student Support Services play a crucial role in the support of vulnerable students within higher education providers. Their role with respect to the Prevent duty varies considerably across different higher education providers, ranging from Directors of Student Support Services being the main Prevent contact to relatively minimal involvement on Prevent-specific intervention.
The Prevent Guidance for higher education places a requirement on higher education providers to provide appropriate staff training and student welfare programmes to enable staff to recognise changes in students’ outlook and behaviour and respond appropriately. Similarly, appropriate staff are expected to have an understanding of the factors that make people support terrorist ideologies or engage in terrorist-related activity, to recognise vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism and how to respond such as through an institutions’ safeguarding procedures or the institution’s process of referral to the Channel programme.
Student Support Services within higher education providers may wish to consider which of their staff may encounter vulnerable students on a regular basis such as disability advisers, councillors, mentors and other frontline staff members that may benefit from additional training.
The Prevent guidance also requires the institution to have procedures in place, internally and externally, for sharing information about vulnerable individuals. This should include internal mechanisms and external information sharing agreements where possible. More widely, the guidance expects there to be sufficient chaplaincy and pastoral support available for all students, including clear and widely available policies for the use of prayer rooms and other faith-related activities. More guidance on chaplaincy is available on our role-specific page for Chaplains.
The Prevent training materials available on this site should help Chairs of governing bodies to fulfil their role. Of particular relevance is the fifth training component, ‘A Student and Staff Wellbeing Issue? - Safeguarding, Pastoral Care and Student Support‘.
Due to the long-established principle of providers having a duty of care to their students, many providers may already have policies and processes in place which align with the requirements of the Prevent duty. A relevant example of this is the case study of a university that included vulnerability to violent radicalisation into its pre-existing safeguarding policy. Also relevant is a case study of a student who was preparing to travel to Syria and how safeguarding processes ensured a successful intervention.
Elsewhere, the student services organisation AMOSSHE is a useful forum through which to develop and share good practice on both Prevent and many other areas.
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