Student Support Services

Student Support Services play a crucial role in the support of vulnerable students within universities. The role that Student Support Services play with regards to the Prevent duty varies considerably across different universities ranging from Directors of Student Support Services being the main Prevent contact to relatively minimal involvement on Prevent-specific intervention. A useful source of information of Student Support’s role in complying with Prevent is the training module A Student and Staff Wellbeing Issue? Safeguarding, Pastoral Care and Student Support which can be accessed via the Safe Campus Communities training section. 

The Prevent Guidance for higher education places a requirement on universities 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 universities 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 chaplains in particular can be seen on the Safe Campus Communities role-specific page for Chaplains. 

Due to the long-established principle of universities having a duty of care to their students, many universities are already compliant with much 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. Of relevance to this is the case study of a student who was preparing to travel to Syria and how safeguarding processes related to a successful intervention. 

Student Support Services staff may also find the membership organisation AMOSSHE a useful forum through which to develop and share good practice on both Prevent and many other areas. There also may be useful resources within the Understanding the Issues page of Safe Campus Communities, which contains links to various counter-extremism organisations and sites for reporting hate crimes.