Universities (Autonomy)

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

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Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I understand why that question has been asked, but, in my experience, not a single institution or academic has contacted me to express concerns about what the system in Scotland is operating to. Our responsibility, of course, is to ensure that we enshrine and protect the autonomy of institutions and, indeed, academics. That autonomy is enshrined in the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016, and we expect institutions to adhere to that. The act sets out that academic freedom includes the

“freedom within the law to ... hold and express opinions ... question and test established ideas or received wisdom ... develop and advance new ideas or innovative proposals ... present controversial or unpopular points of view.”

Our universities should be able to do that, and I see nothing that encumbers them in their being able to do that.