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Colleges and Higher Education Security Standard (CHESS) Project

The CHESS (Colleges and Higher Education Security Standard) project will provide a flexible architecture which embeds collaboration across three key groups of stakeholders in order to produce output of concrete, pragmatic and immediate value to the educational sector. The three stakeholder groups are: an Expert Advisory Group, a Colleges and Higher Education Institutes group and the CHESS Project Team.

This ‘architecture’ will drive the understanding of end users as to the scenarios of current and emerging security challenges; the capabilities that will be required in terms of protection and response (e.g. early warning, command and control) and the functions that Colleges and HEIs will enhance or develop to deliver these capabilities (e.g. Business Continuity). Together, these comprise the security standard – from which individual educational establishments will tailor their arrangements accordingly.

The Expert Advisory Group (comprised of specialists from the policing, law enforcement, counter-terrorism and related fields) will provide situational awareness and strategic insight into credible security threats as they stand and in terms of their evolution. They will also signpost the other teams to government and other best practices and sources of information. These will be incorporated into a categorised electronic annex to the checklist template noted above and be a valuable ‘one stop’ resource for end users. We recognise there will be no direct incentive to engage in the Expert Advisory Group but anticipate that through existing contacts and those facilitated through the mentor, the Groups will include key influencers within the field.

The Project Team will co-ordinate the development of a traffic-light based checklist template that Colleges and HEIs should use to shape their thinking, planning, exercising and investments to meet the challenges of a dynamic threat environment. This template for self-assessment will be the major deliverable from the project – and will be approved by the other two stakeholder groups as setting the foundation for a baseline security standard.

The Colleges and HEI Group will be made up of VCs / Principals or their deputies, all of whom are in a position to affect strategic change across functional silos in their organisation. They will share their ideas about concerns that they have as well as examples of good practice from real world experience. These sessions will be arranged, facilitated and have a secretariat provided by the Project Team. Through the University of Northampton’s AshokaU Changemaker Campus status, examples of international good practice will also be obtained.

Each of these three teams will – after an initial workshop involving all participants or their representatives – provide individuals to staff ‘Task and Finish’ groups. These groups, communicating electronically (e.g. via a Google group) will do the majority of their work in one or more short, intensive sessions focusing on scenarios and capabilities (see above). The terms of reference for each of these ‘Task and Finish’ groups will be defined and agreed by the Expert Advisory Group to ensure effective project governance.

Project and team meetings will take place in free to use spaces (such as the HEFCE London Offices, which have been used by members of the project team in past activities, or the offices of members of the Advisory Group). Transport costs will be covered by the project to encourage engagement.

If you would like further information about this research project, please contact the Project Leaders, Mils Hills or Nick Allen by emailing or or by calling 01604 892625 or 01604 892320.