Student vetting before study: Waste of time or necessary evil?

Student vetting before study: Waste of time or necessary evil?

Summary: Degree courses sometimes contain knowledge "not necessarily for public knowledge". Should students be vetted to ensure the information is used for good and not bad?


A Nigerian student, at this time thought to be from University College, London, is facing charges of international terrorism offenses after seemingly attempting to detonate rudimentary explosives on a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Details are still emerging and police on both sides of the Atlantic are working together to piece together what happened and is still considered breaking news. Widespread disruption is expected at all international airports flying to the United States.

However this has opened yet another long standing thought in my mind in regards to students at university and the wider communities. Should students be vetted before entering on a university course, which could perhaps have negative implications on other people?

Mentioned before on this blog, two university students were arrested last year under terrorism laws for accessing "terror related material" which was not only in the public domain, but on a US government website. The materials they were accessing were relating to their course, however were nonetheless held in custody as a possible result of their non-white ethnic backgrounds.

Had they been vetted before they were brought onto their terrorism studies course and deemed suitable for study, perhaps this would have not occurred in the vastly out-of-proportion way that it had.

With a number of courses, the education aspect covers the good alongside the bad. Chemistry students are told about pyrotechnics and explosive elements, computer science students are thrown into the security deep-end and some dedicate their university careers to understanding the in's and out's of Internet security to create white hat hackers.

But when working with children for example, it is expected to gain a level of security clearance - the UK has the e/CRB service while the US has certain police checks. When studying at university, you will be given access to materials which may not necessarily be for non-academic use and should only be used in an "educational manner". Why shouldn't the same rules apply, and have a police check or a level of vetting to ensure that students may not take these bits of knowledge and use them for ulterior motives?

Some already do - a postgraduate certificate in education for those working with children, or academic degrees involving health and social care; working with those more vulnerable. But as technology becomes more and more intrinsic to our every day lives, surely infrastructure services and knowledge for these systems should be somewhat protected also?

Should students be vetted before they enroll on their course?

Topics: Government US, Government, Security

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  • No, students shouldn't be vetted before enrolling

    They should be vetted if they come from a country with known ties to terrorism BEFORE they are allowed to come to this country.
    • They are...

      ...vetted to some extent before they come into the country. But what about home grown terrorism - that's just as likely. McVeigh and the London bombers were both citizens of our respective countries.

      I also mean when studying child protection for example or police studies; these would give a perpetrator the "inside line" if you will for committing crime. See what I mean?
      • That is my point, actually

        They are vetted before they come into this country, so how in the heck would some college know that these people are dangerous if the FEDS cannot figure that out?

        As to home grown terrorism? Nothing you can do to prevent that anymore than you can prevent premeditated murder in general.... just impossible to do unless you start teaching children that, PERIOD AND DONE WITH.... no killing of another person or physical attack on another person is acceptable, EXCEPT if you have to do that to stop someone from killing you or someone else very close to you at that exact moment.
      • As to the second thing... child protection

        I don't really think that children HAVE to be protected from sex and other things, even with adults, so I have to disagree with you even there.

        We do have to protect them from FORCED sexual encounters with ANYONE (even other children)... we don't need to protect them from someone coming up to them out in the open and propositioning them, which in my estimation would protect them MORE if we allowed that than our current anti-pedosexual, 'child sexual abuse', and statutory rape laws do.

        Simply put, the only thing those laws do is take away from a parents responsibility to know who their children are spending time with... and pedosexuals are SO VERY VERY VERY obvious about what they are, that if someone says "I didn't know X person was a pedosexual!" they should be hit with a cast-iron frying pan over the head.
  • You don't need a college degree...

    Through the internet, books, and organizations, "bad information" is available to anyone who wants it. You don't need a college degree to get it.

    Thankfully, when it comes to making bombs, this guy was a complete and total idiot.
  • You look alike one of those dangerous!

    Be careful brandishing others. This kind of opinions are dangerous since people who look like your face will face unfair discrimination!
  • RE: Student vetting before study: Waste of time or necessary evil?

    I think that all students of universities should be fully vetted before entering the university. Only children of known patriots should be allowed a college education.

    The first rule is that only if your parents have money and are known Republicans can you be a college student.

    All others are too dangerous to be allowed an education.
  • RE: Student vetting before study: Waste of time or necessary evil?

    Vetting is silly and yet implies another impossible liberal dream that government can some how fully guarentee us a happy safe life...if we just paid a more taxes. In the U.S. freedom of religion allows someone to be Muslim (no surprise there) and lack of a criminal background makes them fine for college. However, you can't account for changes that occur During college particularly when some can spend as much as 12 years in college seeking the most advanced degrees. Here in the U.S. some of the most radical are actually employed by our Universities including a Colorado prof., Ward Churchill, who felt those who died in the World Trade Center deserved it for being capitalists N***s.

    Zack, given these kinds of postings I'm desperately afraid your critical thinking skills are not being fully developed at your fancy British Institution of higher learning.
  • RE: Student vetting before study: Waste of time or necessary evil?

    Vetting students before allowing them to study information in the public domain is a big first step towards totalitarianism.

    It also raises questions regarding the legal liabilities of a university whose students go on to commit an act of terrorism, which (today) could mean just about ANYTHING, depending on who is making the accusation.