Universities: Freedom of Expression

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th November 2018.

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Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the oral contribution of the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, of 17 May 2018, Official Report, column 241WH, what information his Department holds on the (a) number of speaking events blocked by a university or students’ union, (b) books removed from university libraries and (c) changes to courses due to changes in equalities guidance.

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Higher Education), Minister of State (Education)

​The information requested is not held centrally.

The department does not collect data on the number of speaking events blocked by a University or Students’ Union, books removed from university libraries and changes to courses due to changes in equalities guidance

​As set out in a statement on 17 May, we do not believe that measuring free speech on campus by events that happen is sufficient, as this does not evidence self-censorship or those events that do not happen in the first place. We are committed to defending free speech on campus to avoid a culture of censorship which risks leading to those outcomes to which the question refers. Comprehensive guidance on Freedom of Speech for the higher education sector is due to be published by the end of the year.

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