A counterterrorism strategy has created a “culture of fear” across UK universities where freedom of expression and open debate is being stifled, experts and campaigners warn.

The government’s Prevent duty, which requires institutions to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, is having a “chilling effect” on free speech on campus, critics say.

The warnings come as The Independent has learned that at least four different academic materials have been flagged at a university over the past two years in response to the counterextremism programme.

Under a University of Reading policy, students and staff are required to tell the institution if they plan to access texts that are potentially “sensitive” to avoid falling foul of Prevent.

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