At the start of the academic year 2021–22, the Universities UK Board has reaffirmed the sector’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom.
The free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech within the law are at the heart of the UK’s higher education sector. They are cherished and championed for the vital role they play in innovation and discovery, providing students and staff with the opportunity to test their thinking, and ultimately ensuring that the UK’s universities play a central role in national debates and wider society.
Universities work hard to create the right conditions to protect and promote free speech and academic freedom across their campuses, ensuring that different voices are heard and particularly those from marginalised groups. Facilitating an environment and opportunities where all students and staff are able to inquire, study and discuss a range of topics and views, including the complex and controversial, in the knowledge they will be listened to and treated respectfully.
Everyone who works, studies or speaks in our universities has the right to be free from bullying, harassment and intimidation. Universities will continue to do all they can to foster good relations on campus, provide safe spaces and ensure a culture which encourages diverse groups and individuals to participate in debate and discussion, with mutual dignity and respect. Enabling debate and the exchange of views, where it is safe and legal to do so, is how we advance understanding.