EuropeHuman Rights

‘Four in five UK universities shy of freedom of speech’


A new study reveals four in five British universities have restrictions on freedom of speech.

According to the online magazine Spiked, the official policies and actions of 80% of UK universities, have either restricted or actively censored free speech and expression on campus beyond the requirements of the law.

Essex is among the worst performers in Spiked’s research. It is one of five universities in which the student union and the administration are both assessed as clearly preventing freedom of speech. The other four are Portsmouth, Northampton, Bath Spa and the University of West of England.
The study grades each administration and student union green, amber or red based on an assessment of their policies and action.

It also indicates that applying to the country’s most prestigious institutions will not guarantee the right to speak one’s mind, showing that 88% of Russell Group and 1994 Group universities have placed restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.

Oxford, for example, where one college recently called off a debate on abortion, has been ranked red while Cambridge got amber.

Now London-based Human Rights Activist Lee Jasper believes the right of free speech is a difficult one in the UK, “because we see that the rightwing, specially the extreme rightwing: [i.e.] the English Defence League, the British national parties, Britain First, a newly emerging group, seem to have free rein to say what they will about any community, particularly they focus on demonizing the Muslim community and Islam as a faith.”
Jasper told Press TV’s UK Desk on Monday that such groups “are able to go about their business without any interference from the law. However, if you are black and Muslim and sought to exercise your right to free speech; maybe criticizing the government’s approach to the war in the Middle East or criticizing British government support for the racist Israeli administration or any other issue of note, you will find yourself quickly being subject to the full weight of the law.”

He further noted that there is a “racial” democracy in the UK: “So what you have is a democracy that is racialized, a democracy that has deep levels of religious bigotry embedded within its cultural fabric, and therefore what appears to be an example of democracy worldwide on paper is in fact quickly deteriorating into a stratified racist democracy in which the color of your skin and your faith dictates the level of the quality you could expect to receive.”

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