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Freedom of speech on campus: rights and responsibilities in UK universities

This report considers the role of universities in promoting academic freedom and freedom of speech, and some of the constraints surrounding these freedoms.​

 

 

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of University College London 2003-2013, discusses the report

 

 

The report starts by examining the meaning of academic freedom and freedom of speech: concepts which are often invoked but rarely defined. It then explores the contemporary context in which universities are operating, both in terms of the diversity of current student populations, and the wider national environment. It summarises the relevant law, and describes the government’s security strategy and other security initiatives and structures. It then reviews the various ways in which universities from across the UK have addressed these challenges and sought to reconcile differing priorities, drawing on an on-line survey conducted by Universities UK of all its members in 2010. 

Despite media accusations of complacency by universities in relation to security matters, the survey findings confirm how unjustified such accusations are and how seriously universities take their responsibilities in relation to the safety and security of their staff and students, alongside their obligations to protect and promote free speech and academic freedom.​

Number 10 Downing Street

Response to Prime Minister's statement on tackling extremism in universities and colleges

17 September 2015
Universities have strong partnerships with the police and security services and have engaged with the Government’s Prevent strategy for a number of years. This new duty is a continuation of that work.

Promoting freedom of speech and ensuring safety on campus

2 April 2015
Universities are committed to the free exchange of ideas and are the natural place where any lawful ideas can be voiced and debated.
person holding sheet of paper

Counter-extremism, Prevent and implications for universities

18 May 2016
The Queen’s Speech today included details of further legislation to “prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism and promote community integration” via a Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill.