Universities Must Protect Free Speech and Debate or Face Fines

Universities must uphold free speech and open debate or face fines and be blacklisted by a new higher education regulator, the government had revealed.

The new Office for Students (OfS) will force institutions to challenge the “safe space” culture used by leftists to control and censor debate on topics such as transgender issues, Israel, and Islam. Christians and UKIP members have even been banned from some events.

A new Department of Education (DoE) paper explains that any university failing to protect different views being heard will face “formal sanctions against the provider including monetary penalties, suspension from the register or deregistration,” by the OfS.

Staff, Student Unions (SU), and student societies must all respect free speech and “rigorous debate”, the paper says.

Education Minister Jo Johnson explains in the paper that, “freedom of speech and debate is sometimes threatened by groups operating under the banner of ‘no platforming’ and ‘safe spaces’”.

The new body will also try to guarantee high standards and value for money for students, “challenge grade inflation wherever it finds it”, as well as “be a staunch champion of freedom of speech, shining a light on any attempt to undermine it,” Mr. Johnson says.

Specifically, it will urge universities to have a “speech code of practice” and “publicly call out providers who fail to comply with this principle and protect freedom of speech”.

“In a democratic country, we strongly believe it is in the public interest to preserve and encourage freedom of speech within the law,” the paper adds. “Our legislation is about valuing lawful free speech and ensuring those that wish to engage in lawful debate can do so.”

The National Union of Students (NUS) and most SUs have so-called “safe space” policies, restricting the expression of certain views in large areas of university campuses.

Supporters argue that certain words and views can make certain groups feel “unsafe”. Asserting that there are two genders, for example, is said to “harm” those believe they are transgendered and claims that Islam justifies violence can be “offensive” to Muslims.

Feminist speakers such as Julie Bindle and Germaine Greer have been banned from speaking to students for believing that women must have female biology and ex-Muslim Maryam Namazie has been “no platformed” because she might ‘antagonise’ Muslims.

Just last week, a college committee attempted to exclude a Christian society from a fresher fair, and back in 2014, the University of Derby banned UKIP members from speaking on campus because they were said to be “extremists” who could “harm” students.

Islamists with genuinely radical views, meanwhile, are frequently allowed to speak in universities.

The anti-Israel Friends of Al-Aqsa, who are linked to anti-Semites, Islamists, and terror groups, have sent speakers to campuses unopposed, and CAGE, who praised Islamic State executioner Jihadi John, is working with the NUS to oppose terror laws in universities.


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