Free Speech Culture not Taken Seriously by Tory Government
Jo Grady, an employee of College Union, says that the government is continuing to generate a phoney culture war on Free Speech.
1% of speaker requests or events are rejected at UK universities, according to the Office of Students (OfS). A union has said the idea of a “free speech crisis” at UK universities is “at odds with the evidence.”
Nearly 20,000 events with external speakers took place at English universities and colleges throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. A total of 193 events were barred from taking place.
The government is providing new legislation to protect free speech at universities and sanction institutions that don’t follow these policies.
The former education secretary put forward the bill. His goal is to tackle censorship on campus and remove any chilling effect it may have.
Many people have criticised the Tory narrative of a free speech crisis because of dislikes on college campuses.
In the statement, general secretary Sally Hunt said she would like ministers to work on improving precarious employment practices that threaten academic freedoms instead of “continuing to whip up a phoney culture war.”
Less than 1% of the last year’s events and speakers were denied. Universities and colleges can express their beliefs, debate current issues, and share ideas openly.
She said the proportion of rejections sharply increased in 2020-21, but she would be concerned if lawful views were stifled.
There has been a significant uptick in the last academic year in the number of requests for speakers that have been rejected. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 141 were denied and 53 made in 2017-2018.
The Office of Student Conduct will closely monitor universities to ensure they uphold their commitment to free speech. If a university is not meeting these obligations, the Office of Student Conduct will intervene.
New minister for education Andrea Jenkins warned about the chilling effect of censorship on university and college campuses.
The UCU has accused the government of using the threat to free speech as a way to push through new legislation.
What are your thoughts on how the government deals with her speech?
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