Prevent Watch

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Prevent: Government’s counterterrorism programme is ‘single biggest threat’ to free speech at universities, report finds

The single biggest threat to free speech on university campuses is the government’s counterterrorism Prevent programme, a report has claimed. Written and published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) the papers says that despite “strong rhetoric supporting free speech in universities”, the “current single biggest threat to free speech on UK campuses currently comes from the government’s own Prevent programme”. Read more

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Free speech to be protected at university

New guidance that will protect lawful free speech and empower students and universities has been unveiled by ten leading organisations to ensure campuses still remain a forum for open and robust enquiry. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has collaborated with leading organisations from across the sector to develop new guidance to be used by all institutions and students’ unions, demonstrating the sector’s commitment to upholding freedom of expression. This guidance is the first time that legal rights and obligations around free speech have been defined so coherently, empowering institutions, students’ unions and individuals to stand up for free speech, and creating a structure for them to work together. It clarifies the limited occasions where free speech can lawfully be limited, allowing it to flourish for current and future generations of students. Read more

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Trigger warnings OK but no-platforming may be illegal, universities warned

Consistently no-platforming people could have a chilling effect on free speech on university campuses and should not take place, according to government guidance. While student unions are free to choose whether or not to invite individual speakers, placing blanket bans on groups that hold a particular political view is likely to breach English and Welsh free speech laws, according to the guidance released on Saturday. Read more

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Index on Censorship report on free speech on campuses erases the Muslim experience

The Index on Censorship report into freedom of expression at universities ignores the experience of Muslims, who are facing the brunt of institutional policies to quell their right to free speech, in what amounts to a total erasure of their voice and experiences on campuses. The report arrives at some agreeable conclusions, and takes into consideration the impact of PREVENT on freedom of expression, however it frames Muslim students as either actors in denying free speech to others, or as nameless victims who have no voice. Read more

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Universities: Is free speech under threat?

Free speech is being threatened at British universities by a culture of offence among certain students, according to critics. A Parliamentary inquiry has reported, regulator the Office for Students has threatened to fine universities that fail to uphold free speech and the Equality and Human Rights Commission is drawing up guidelines for universities. Read more

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Is new government guidance required to secure campus free speech?

ANALYSIS: On 3 May 2018, universities minister Sam Gimyah announced a “free speech summit” with representatives from the higher education sector, at which he would “demand” that the sector take further action to protect lawful free speech and work with ministers to publish new guidance that would provide clarity about the rules to both students and universities “for the first time”. Read more

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What’s going on with the higher education ‘free speech’ debate?

The question of whether free speech at British universities is being threatened has been fraught with controversy in recent months. Sam Gyimah, as well as previous Universities Minister Jo Johnson, have accused safe spaces, no-platforming, and trigger-warnings as impeding free expression. However, many campaigners have pointed to the Prevent legislation as a greater hindrance to freedom of speech, arguing that the policy aimed at preventing ‘radicalisation’ may be used as a guise for universities to refuse controversial or unpopular speakers a platform. Read more