Bouattia said the legislation only “perpetuates a culture of fear, restricts academic freedoms and normalises Islamophobia”.

In a statement, she added: “[The] NUS is deeply concerned about the impact that systematic monitoring of messages will have on students, particularly black and Muslim students and those involved in political campaigns, activities or research.”

One King’s College student, Ibtehal Hussain, who spoke to the Middle East Eye, said the knowledge that emails were being retained and monitored only created a “climate of fear and intimidation” for those involved in political activism.

That stance echoes the position of the University and College Union (UCU) which, in December 2015, said Prevent threatened “academic freedom and freedom of speech” and claimed that “the broad definition of terrorism will stifle campus activism”.

It asserted: “The [law] will force our members to spy on our learners, is discriminatory towards Muslims, and legitimises Islamophobia and xenophobia, encouraging racist views to be publicised and normalised within society – the monitoring of Muslim students will destroy the trust needed for a safe and supportive learning environment.”

In April last year, as reported by The Guardian, the Prevent agenda was criticised by Maina Kiai, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on the right to freedom of assembly.

He said: “The spectre of Big Brother is so large, in fact, that I was informed that some families are afraid of discussing the negative effects of terrorism in their own homes, fearing their children would talk about it at school and have their intentions misconstrued.

“By dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, Prevent could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it.”