Universities (Autonomy)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 11th November 2021.

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

I am sure that the minister agrees that university autonomy—which, of course, includes the academic freedom that he referred to—has been part of the success of the university system for hundreds of years precisely because it protects institutional diversity and specialisation and that the system reflects the likes of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Scotland’s Rural College and Glasgow School of Art. Does the minister accept that recent developments with regard to free speech in the university system at the United Kingdom and Scottish levels threaten to undermine the concepts of autonomy and academic freedom? Will he explain to Parliament what action the Scottish Government is taking to ensure that university autonomy is never diminished?