Twenty-seven per cent of British students believe UKIP members should not be invited to speak on campuses, a practice also known as “no platforming”.
A significant 76 per cent would also ban any speaker who had views that offended them, and 48 per cent want universities to be declared “safe spaces”, where debate would be restricted to safeguard perceived victims from different gender and cultural identity groups.
Researchers from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) interviewed 1,000 students in more than 100 universities for a new report, Keeping Schtum? What Students Think of Free Speech.
The study also found that two thirds supported so-called “trigger warnings”, which would be used to alert feeble minded students before sensitive subjects such as rape were raised in lectures.
In 2014, UKIP members were banned from speaking to students at Derby University ahead of May’s European Elections. The Students Union released a statement insisting that all “racist, fascist or extremist views” would not be tolerated.
Other figures to be banned from UK campuses include gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, feminist Germaine Greer, ex-Muslim and anti-Sharia campaigner Maryam Namazie and liberal Muslim Mona Eltahawy.
Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, told the Sunday Times: “For some students, illiberalism appears to be a way of protecting liberalism.
“Higher education institutions should redouble their efforts to discuss the challenges, threats and limits to free speech with their students.
“Otherwise, no one can guarantee higher education will continue to offer a space in which good ideas defeat weak ones through open debate.”
The feminist writer Naomi Wolf said the attitudes revealed in the survey of 1,000 students in more than 100 universities were “catastrophic”.
She added: “They show a terrifying trend, especially in British universities which for 800 years have served as lights of freedom of thought.”
Historian Amanda Foreman said it was “sad” students were “fighting to close their minds against new ideas.”