Academic Freedom

Department for Education written question – answered at on 21 March 2024.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will hold discussions with the Office for Students on ensuring that the forthcoming guidance for higher education providers on (a) securing free speech within the law and (b) publishing and maintaining a freedom of speech code of practice is published before 1 August 2024.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The remaining provisions of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023 will come into force in two phases. The main provisions of the Act, introducing free speech duties on higher education providers, constituent institutions and students' unions, and the new complaints scheme, will come into force on 1 August 2024. The Office for Students (OfS) has already launched two consultations that will feed into new complaints scheme rules and guidance for students’ unions on the OfS’s approach to regulating them. These will be published before the 1 August 2024.

The second phase involves provisions relating to new conditions of registration on providers and monitoring of overseas funding. These will come into force on 1 September 2025.

The OfS expects to consult shortly on the proposed revisions to the regulatory framework, including on its approach to the recovery of costs, as well as on more detailed guidance on securing free speech within the law and on maintaining a free speech code of practice. The OfS consultations are not yet live, and the OfS will require time to run the consultation, analyse the results and publish a response before they can publish the guidance to which they relate. Precise timings on the publication of guidance are a matter for the OfS.

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