Higher Education in an Era of Violent Extremism: Exploring Tensions Between National Security and Academic Freedom


  • Bernhard Streitwieser George Washington University
  • Kristen Allen Hanover Research
  • Kathryn Duffy-Jaeger Rutgers University


Countering Violent Extremism, Higher Education, Counter Radicalization Policies, Prevent Strategy, Radicalisation Awareness Network


Security, terrorism, and radicalization are related topics that are rarely discussed in the study of international education. To fill this gap, this study investigated how the higher education sector in the European Community, including Turkey, has engaged with numerous counter-radicalization strategies. Through a survey of 18 available policy documents and a focus on the UK’s Prevent Strategy and the EU’s Radicalization Awareness Network Guidance (RAN), along with a qualitative investigation of publicly available information from 24 universities, this study demonstrates that national security policies rarely provide recommendations to institutions of higher education for the prevention of radicalization leading to violent extremism. Findings point to the conclusion that universities are either unenthusiastic or resistant to complying with top-down, government issued directives for countering student radicalization. We recommend that communication methods between policy-makers and university administrators be reconsidered for the greater protection of students and their wider communities.


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