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Academic Freedom

Question for Department for Education

UIN 111761, tabled on 25 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to protect freedom of speech on university campuses.

Answered on

31 January 2022

The government believes that freedom of speech and academic freedom are fundamental pillars of our higher education system, and that protecting these principles should be a priority for universities.

That is why we have introduced the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, which passed its 2nd reading in the House of Commons on 12 July 2021 and was debated by the Public Bill Committee in September 2021. The Bill will strengthen existing freedom of speech duties and directly address gaps within the existing law. This includes the fact there is no clear way of enforcing the current law when a higher education provider breaches it as well as applying the duties directly to students’ unions and constituent colleges. The changes will introduce clear consequences for breaches of the new duties and ensure that these principles are upheld.