Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015: United Kingdom, Part 2 [Post 11 of a Series]


In terms of its impact on higher education, a major feature of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act was to be “an outright ban on extremist speakers, including non-violent extremists, . . . on university campuses” (Travis). Home Secretary Theresa May proposed that such a ban be “backed by contempt of court powers in reserve for any university vice-chancellor that refused to implement the ban” (Travis). But the House of Lords “insisted that universities’ academic freedom and duty to freedom of speech be given equal legal weight to the new duty to prevent staff and students being drawn into terrorism, leading to [a] compromise solution” (Travis). John Hayes, the Security Minister, said: “The new Prevent duty is about protecting people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism. The issue of how universities and colleges balance the Prevent duty with the importance of academic…

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