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Free speech in universities—what are the issues?

Published on: 22 March 2021
Published by: LexisPSL
  • Free speech in universities—what are the issues?
  • ‘No platforming’
  • How common is ‘no platforming’?
  • ‘Safe spaces’
  • Safety over debate?
  • Self-censorship—a ‘chilling effect’?
  • Are universities too left wing?
  • Further reading

Article summary

Public Law analysis: The free speech debate in universities has become increasingly heated in recent years, with Higher Education Providers (HEPs) accused of not doing enough to uphold freedom of expression on campuses. Having pledged to address the issue in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto, the government published a policy paper on 16 February 2021 containing proposals to ‘strengthen free speech and academic freedom’ in universities. The paper has prompted many in the higher education sector to restate their commitment to free speech, and question the government’s priorities at a time when staff and students are dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In this insight, Joe Lewis, researcher at the House of Commons Library, looks at issues central to the debate, considering ‘no platform’ policies, ‘safe spaces’, and the claim that a ‘chilling effect’ is stifling diversity of opinion within universities. or take a trial to read the full analysis.

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