Dear Prime Minister,
We, the undersigned, are calling on your government to prioritise freedom of speech on campus. The introduction of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill is a long-overdue response to campus culture at many universities. The prevalent culture of no-platforming, censorship, and the discrimination of student groups and individuals with minority views is well-documented and ongoing.
Despite many opportunities since the introduction of the Bill in May of 2021, your government is yet to bring the Bill to Report Stage, and it appears to be on indefinite pause. Your 2019 manifesto promised that you would ‘champion freedom of expression’, and the HE Bill is your only piece of legislation that might fulfil that promise.
Prime Minister, enough delay. With every passing month during which the Bill stagnates, the systemic problems afflicting students and academics it seeks to ease remain possible. We ask you to fulfil your promises, prioritise freedom of speech, and send the message to current students and staff that they are free to express their sincerely held beliefs without undue censorship or discrimination.
DAYS LEFT TO START OF 2022/23 ACADEMIC YEAR:
Universities, courts and the Government must defend academic freedom through legal safeguards, appropriate training for staff and students, and highly effective monitoring of the abuse of this duty. We need your help to ensure this Government keeps its promises.
Free Speech on Campus – National Poll Results
The findings of the national poll follow a number of legal challenges to universities across the UK that have been accused of stifling free speech. The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights released a report on Freedom of Speech in Universities in 2018, which not only raised concerns about speech restrictions but the growing phenomenon of “no-platforming” – the exclusion of certain groups or speakers from participation in student discourse.