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.