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Students: Mental Health

Question for Department for Education

UIN 16045, tabled on 15 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of lectures based on critical race theory on the mental health of students in universities.

Answered on

23 June 2021

The department does not keep a central record of individual courses offered by higher education providers, or their effect on the mental health of students.

Higher education providers are independent and autonomous institutions and are free to make their own internal decisions, including regarding curricula. In higher education, it is the freedom to think independently, and challenge opinions, which makes our universities truly world-renowned, and it is this freedom that will be protected in the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, introduced on 12 May.

Higher education providers, and their academic members of staff, are fully entitled to adopt any philosophy they wish in their teaching or research, and to speak out freely about their beliefs without suffering detriment. However, providers should not interfere with academic freedom by imposing, or seeking to impose, a political or ideological viewpoint upon the teaching, research, or other activities of individual academics, either across the whole university or at departmental, faculty, or other level.

Student mental health is a key priority for this government. We continue to work closely with the higher education sector to promote good practice.

The government strongly supports the University Mental Health Charter, which aims to drive up standards in promoting student and staff mental health and wellbeing. The government continues to work closely with Universities UK on embedding the ‘Step Change: Mentally Healthy Universities’ framework, calling on higher education leaders to adopt mental health as a strategic priority.