Universities defy government pressure over equality group

Universities in England have launched a fightback against government attacks on their autonomy, telling ministers they “crossed a line” by pressurising them to abandon a scheme designed to improve equality on campus, writes Richard Adams for The Guardian.

In what may be a turning point in the so-called ‘culture wars’ over free speech, Universities UK took on the education minister, Michelle Donelan, after she warned them to reconsider membership of a race equality charter, run by the charity Advance HE.

The scheme – which counts the majority of Russell Group universities among its members – aims to identify barriers to success for black, Asian and minority ethnic students. But in a letter to vice-chancellors this week, Donelan claimed that membership of the charter was “in tension” with universities’ duties to uphold free speech. In its letter of response on Thursday, Universities UK said: “An important line has been crossed with the letter appearing to direct universities to take a specific approach” on equalities.
Full report on The Guardian site