Tertiary terror alert

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2007, 12:00am

Australian universities are potential terrorist targets and may also become terrorist recruiting grounds, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The report says that some 180,000 overseas students are enrolled in Australian higher education institutions which provides opportunities for potential terrorists to 'blend in'.

The institute is an independent policy organisation set up by the Australian government to provide ideas on defence and strategic policy.

The report, prepared by the institute's Drs Anthony Bergin and Raspal Khosa, says Australia's university campuses overseas could also become targets. 'Our universities have evacuation plans for emergencies but they don't have any counter-terrorism plans,' the writers say.

They say that one sensitive issue is the matter of academics monitoring students on behalf of security agencies. 'Many academics would argue that this would undermine the trust needed between lecturers and students to freely exchange ideas and debate controversial issues.

The report calls for a national academic consortium to be established to foster interest in terrorism and counter-terrorism research.