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Universities: Freedom of Expression

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Blencathra Lord Blencathra Chair, Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, Chair, Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of universities rescinding invitations from speakers; and what plans, if any, they have to reduce funding to universities when that happens.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government does not support no-platforming of individuals or organisations.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has made it clear that he is concerned about the cases reported in the press where external speakers are alleged to have been no-platformed, students and their societies are reportedly having their voices restricted and academics are not able to pursue research projects. It is important that universities take robust action to prevent this happening.

This government has committed to strengthen academic freedom and free speech in universities and ensure they are places where free speech and debate can thrive – this includes considering the underpinning legal framework. We have made it clear that if universities do not uphold free speech, the government will.

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