Original Research

The counter-terrorist campus: Securitisation theory and university securitisation – Three Models

Liam Gearon
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 2 | a13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v2i0.13 | © 2017 Liam Gearon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2016 | Published: 28 February 2017

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With intensified threats to global security from international terrorism, universities have become a focus for security concerns and marked as locus of special interest for the monitoring of extremism and counter-terrorism efforts by intelligence agencies worldwide.

Drawing on initiatives in the United Kingdom and United States, I re-frame three – covert, overt and covert–overt – intersections of education, security and intelligence studies as a theoretical milieu by which to understand such counter-terrorism efforts.

Against the backdrop of new legislative guidance for universities in an era of global terrorism and counter-terrorism efforts by security and intelligence agencies and their Governments, and through a review of Open-Source security/intelligence concerning universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, I show how this interstitial (covert, overt and covert– overt) complexity can be further understood by the overarching relationship between securitisation theory and university securitisation.

An emergent securitised concept of university life is important because de facto it will potentially effect radical change upon the nature and purposes of the university itself.

A current-day situation replete with anxiety and uncertainty, the article frames not only a sharply contested and still unfolding political agenda for universities but a challenge to the very nature and purposes of the university in the face of a potentially existential threat. Terrorism and counterterrorism, as manifest today, may well thus be altering the aims and purposes of the university in ways we as yet do not fully know or understand. This article advances that knowledge and understanding through a theoretical conceptualisation: the counter-terrorist campus.


counter-terrorism; securitisation theory; security; intelligence studies; education, universities


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1. Secularisation and the Securitisation of the Sacred a Response to Lewin’s Framing of the Gearon–Jackson Debate
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British Journal of Educational Studies  vol: 65  issue: 4  first page: 469  year: 2017  
doi: 10.1080/00071005.2017.1363375