Academic Freedom

In response to the campaign on academic freedom, David said:

"Our universities have a proud and successful history, a history that encourages freedom of speech and it is important that this right is preserved. The Prime Minister has said our universities should not be just be places of learning, but should also be placed where there can be open debate.

The Minister for Universities has been clear that universities have a legal duty to secure freedom of speech for students, staff and visiting speakers and must have clear policies in place to support this practice. This duty extends to both the premises of the university and premises occupied by the students' unions, even if they are not part of the university premises. This means that universities have a legal obligation to ensure the use of student union premises is not denied to individuals on the grounds or their beliefs, policy or objectives.

Universities also have a responsibility under of the Equality Act 2010 to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all staff and students. This helps ensure that all individuals are able to express their opinions without fear of discrimination, or harassment by the university.

The Department for Education provides additional support to universities to ensure that ideas and opinions can be heard, challenged and debated - including help to assess the possible risks around external speakers.

Freedom of speech is vital in society, and in particular in higher education. It is essential for academic thinking to remain cutting-edge and for ideas to be explored and challenged. The procedures are in place to uphold this right from any external or internal threats."

More information about the campaign can be here.