Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill

A briefing from Policy Exchange

October 31, 2022

This briefing, prepared for the Lords Committee stage of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, sets out the background to the Bill and what it will achieve, as well as highlighting key evidence from Policy Exchange that reinforces why the Bill is needed.

The Bill was introduced to help secure academic freedom and free speech on university campuses. In addition to high profile cases of visiting speakers or academics being no platformed or having to leave their jobs, such as politician Amber Rudd or Professor Kathleen Stock, Policy Exchange reports have found that:

  • Just 2 in 10 British academics in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum said they would share these views with colleagues, compared to nearly 9 in 10 Remain-supporting academics who would share their views.
  • Over 1 in 3 academics surveyed admitted that they would discriminate against a Leave supporter when hiring.
  • Fewer than 4 in 10 academics were willing to sit down to lunch with a gender-critical feminist who opposes the right of trans people to enter women’s shelters.
  • Around half of those reviewing a grant proposal with a right-wing perspective would rank it lower because of its political orientation.

Policy Exchange’s previous reports on Academic Freedom in the UK that support the need and rationale for the Bill are:

by Thomas Simpson and Eric Kaufmann

by Remi Adeloya, Eric Kaufmann and Thomas Simpson

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