Imperial College bans students from wearing hoodies and veils

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The Independent Online

One of the country's most prestigious universities has banned its students from wearing hoodies or veils - and told them they must show their faces at all times.

Imperial College London has introduced the ban over security concerns "raised by the terrorist incidents which had occurred over the summer". But a spokesman for the college, a member of the elite Russell Group of universities which represents the country's 19 leading research institutions, said the ban had as much to do with combating theft and the activities of groups such as animal rights extremists as terrorists.

The move, accompanied by a demand from the college that students should wear their ID cards at all times, has caused concern among student union leaders. They are worried that the ban poses a threat to civil liberties - and also believe that the ID cards would not be impossible for terrorists to forge.

In a communique to students, K A Mitcheson, the college secretary, said: "The ability of members of staff and students to confirm the identity of any stranger ... they find in a building is an essential element of the security process."

The new code goes on to state: "Clothing that obscures an individual's face is not allowed on any of the college's campuses, except when required for health and safety or work-related reasons ... employees and students should refrain from wearing clothing which obscures the face such as a full or half veil or hooded tops."

A college spokesman said security would view "with sensitivity" the wearing of any religious or cultural dress - such as saris, turbans, skullcaps and hijabs.