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Cracking the code: A practical guide for university free speech policies

  • 19 July 2018
  • By Diana Beech
  • HEPI number 109

The question of whether UK higher education institutions are effectively promoting free speech on campus is a political hot potato. Recent attempts to ‘no platform’ speakers by students and academics have caused Government and policymakers to question whether the right balance is being struck by higher education institutions, which have a legal obligation (in England and Wales) to formulate and implement codes of practice to uphold freedom of speech on their premises.

This report presents a practical guide for institutions to use when composing or updating these codes of practice. It looks at what works in existing codes, as well as what does not, and presents a set of practical recommendations to the sector to ensure future codes of practice on freedom of speech are as simple, effective and user-friendly as possible.

Prominent human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has kindly written the Foreword to the report.

April 2019 update: The University of Cambridge have asked us to make the following point about an event discussed in the text of the paper clear, which we are delighted to do:

“The University of Cambridge subsequently acknowledged that its decision to impose an alternative chair was wrong, that it evoked strong and understandable concerns relating to academic freedom, and portrayed Dr Salih in a manner that does not befit a respected academic with more than 15 years’ experience of chairing meetings in a balanced and scholarly way. The University apologised to Dr Salih and recognised that there was no evidence to support the view that she would not ensure a democratic debate, allowing all views to be expressed.”

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