Universities urge ‘proportionate’ approach to free speech

The leading research universities in the United Kingdom have urged the government to be “proportionate” in its planned legislation to promote free speech on campus, arguing that existing laws and regulations are sufficient to protect academic freedom, write Richard Adams and Rachel Hall for The Guardian.

In an intensification of ministers’ culture war agenda, the Queen’s speech to parliament on 11 May will contain measures on campus free speech, potentially including the creation of a ‘free speech champion’ for England, extending legal requirements on free speech to student unions, and allowing speakers who are ‘no platformed’ to sue for compensation.

But the 24 members of the Russell Group are concerned that the measures will add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy on top of existing freedom of expression legislation and requirements under the ‘Prevent’ anti-radicalisation programme, as well as employment and contract laws protecting staff. In a “statement of principles”, the group said its members were already working to uphold free speech and academic freedom as “a responsibility our universities take extremely seriously”.
Full report on The Guardian site