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Universities: Counter-terrorism

Question for Department for Education

UIN 58710, tabled on 19 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will list (a) any powers he has to prevent investment in UK universities by hostile states and (b) the legal basis for each of those powers.

Answered on

22 October 2021

We are recognised across the world for our higher education system and we encourage the sector to collaborate with international partners. However, to be open, we must also be secure, and we will not accept collaborations which compromise our national security.

On the 29 April 2021, the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act was passed. The NSI Act enables the UK Government to protect all sectors, including research and Higher Education Institutions from hostile foreign interference through mandating notification and requiring approval of investments and other acquisitions in key areas. It also extends the UK Government’s screening powers to include acquisitions of control over assets such as intellectual and tangible property. Universities and other research organisations should have regard to the NSI Act when collaborating with other parties to acquire, sell or develop entities and assets.

In addition, I commissioned Universities UK to produce comprehensive security guidelines to advise universities on engaging in secure international collaborations published in October 2020, ‘Managing risks in internationalisation: security-related issues’. Among the recommendations in the guidelines were that due diligence be conducted on all international partnerships.

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