The 2017 Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) – sponsored by AFAF – is out. spiked’s groundbreaking analysis of campus censorship in the UK has published its third annual report, and it paints a grim picture. Our survey, ranking 115 UK universities using our traffic-light system, shows that 63.5 per cent of universities now actively censor speech, and 30.5 per cent stifle speech through excessive regulation. This marks a steady rise in censorship over the past three years. Now only six per cent of UK universities are truly free, open places. Read the 2017 results.
The government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy sees the sudden psychological ‘radicalisation’ of vulnerable children and young people as the cause of today’s apparently meaningless acts of terrorism. It has turned teachers and lecturers into spies looking out for signs of ‘radicalisation’ including signs of unusual behaviour and mental illness. ‘Prevent’ has many critics who often condemn it as ‘Islamophobic’ for targeting Muslims, while its supporters claim that the aim is to prevent terrorism in all its forms including that of extreme right or ‘Fascist’ groups and that of individual fanatics.
But is the idea behind ‘Prevent’ ineffective because it is essentially passive? Watching, waiting and hoping are hardly inspiring activities. The celebration of freedoms, of fun and the enjoyment of life are what will challenge the tendency to nihilistic, misanthropic and often self-hating acts of violence. Instead of active assertion of values, lecturers and teachers are required to create an Orwellian climate of suspicion and fear. Some even welcome their community safety roles and go about seeking out supposed signs of radicalisation.
A duty to report suspicions to the police and other authorities leaves teachers and lecturers in a morally shameful state. Their only weapon in response to the challenge of narcissistic and nihilistic extremism is to use the one ability that any teacher or lecturer worthy of the name has, the ability to discuss and debate every issue, however ‘sensitive’ or ‘offensive’ it may be. That includes the necessity to debate ‘Prevent’ and its implications without looking constantly over your shoulder.
Teachers and lecturers have a choice, either they can live in fear and spread fear, or they can speak up and say what they think and encourage pupils and students to speak freely.
At this Battle of Ideas satellite, sponsored by AFAF, we will uphold the motto of the Institute of Ideas: ‘Free Speech Allowed!’ and let nothing prevent people from speaking up. Come along and keep debate alive.
Date, Time and Venue: Tuesday 8 November at 7 PM, in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby. Tickets £5 (waged) £3 (unwaged) available on Eventbrite.
Tom Slater, deputy editor of the online current affairs magazine spiked! and co-ordinator of the Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) and Dennis Hayes, professor of education at the University of Derby and founder and director of Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) defended the proposition ‘This house would never limit free speech on university campuses’. (more…)
A ‘must read’ new book out this September from Civitas with contributions from many AFAF supporters including Jenny Jarvie, Dennis Hayes, Cheryl Hudson (ed.), Tara McCormack, Jason Walsh and Joanna Williams (ed.). Order it now on Amazon only £9.
“Academic freedom in British universities has become a national talking point. Government policies such as the Prevent Duty and the Research Excellence Framework pose a threat to academic freedom, as do students – and increasingly scholars themselves – who want to turn the campus into an intellectual ‘safe space’. (more…)
‘Adam Kissel – former vice-president of Fire – the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the leading American campaign group for freedom of speech – starts his ‘Free Speech England Tour’ in Derby on Tuesday 17 March. In this short opinion piece he reminds us that, as well as the Magna Carta of 1215, Britain once had a ‘Bill of Rights’ established in 1689 as a result of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ that was the inspiration for the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. (more…)
Written by Dennis Hayes for The Conversation. Freedom of speech is at the heart of academic life and a university should be a place where every issue is discussed and debated. (more…)