Students told to drop safe spaces and no-platform policies as minister orders universities to put freedom of speech first
Students are being told to drop safe spaces and no platform-policies as the minister for higher education is ordering universities to protect freedom of speech.
Jo Johnson has written to the chief executive of Universities UK to say there is a legal duty for universities to ensure freedom of speech is being exercised.
Under new plans drawn up by the Government, universities will be required by law to protect free speech across their campuses included inside the student union.
His letter comes just months after findings showed 94 per cent of universities in the UK now have some form of restriction on freedom of expression, up from 80 per cent in 2015.
The worrying craze has seen everything from public speakers blocked to fancy dress outfits banned from appearing on campus.
In recent years a number of high-profile people have been banned from speaking at universities in recent years including Mr Johnsons brother Boris, whose invitation to Kings College London was revoked for a column about Barack Obama.
Germaine Greer was nearly stopped from speaking at a lecture at Cardiff University after students started a petition against her visiting, following comments she made about the transgender community.
Radical feminist Julie Bindel was ironically banned from speaking at a debate about censorship at Manchester Universitys student union for her dangerous views on transgender people.
Journalist Julie Bindle was banned from debating censorship at Manchester Universitys Students Union
This upward trend of censorship has also seen campuses banning everything from newspapers to fancy dress outfits, such as Pocahontas and cowboys and Indians.
And in some universities such as Cardiff Metropolitan, students are trying to ban terms such as gentlemans agreement and mankind in case they cause offence.
Now Mr Johnson is seeking to reclaim some control on campuses, through the new Higher Education and Research Bill.
He told The Times newspaper a consultation will be starting shortly.
The newspaper Mr Johnson wrote to Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, and said: It is important to note that the duty extends to both the premises of the university and premises occupied by the students unions, even when they are not part of the university premises.
It is important to note that the duty extends to both the premises of the university and premises occupied by the students unions, even when they are not part of the university premises.
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