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Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill

Question for Department for Education

UIN 93019, tabled on 14 December 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to publish the guidance accompanying the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill.

Answered on

6 January 2022

The Office for Students (OfS) will publish guidance to support the new regulatory framework and complaints scheme, following completion of the Bill’s passage. I anticipate that they will consult widely, including with sector representatives and student bodies, as appropriate in due course.

Guidance for higher education providers in England and students’ unions of Approved (fee cap) providers in England on the strengthened and additional duties imposed by the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will be published by the OfS.

The OfS is accountable to the Department for Education and to Parliament. They can also be asked to appear in front of the Education Select Committee.

The Department for Education published an Impact Assessment on 12 May 2021. This sets out the expected costs and benefits of the Bill, including the office of the Director for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom. This is publicly available here:

Data on the number of events cancelled on higher education campuses since the introduction of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill to Parliament is not available. According to Prevent monitoring data, 0.24% of events were cancelled during academic year 2018/19, not necessarily due to freedom of speech concerns. This Bill is not only about event cancellations – it will underpin a culture change across campuses where students, staff and visiting speakers feel able to express lawful views without fear of negative repercussions.