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UCU slams government free speech plans as Trojan horse for increasing power over staff & students

12 May 2021

Responding to the UK government's Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

'There are serious threats to freedom of speech and academic freedom on campus, but they come from the government and university managers, not staff and students. If this authoritarian government is serious about strengthening freedom of speech, then why is it cracking down on the right to protest freely via the policing and crime bill?

'The truth is that widespread precarious employment strips academics of the ability to speak and research freely, and curtails chances for career development. Free speech and academic freedom are threatened more widely on campus by government interference in the form of the Prevent duty, and attempts to impose the IHRA definition and examples of antisemitism on universities.

'This bill should be seen for what it is: the government using freedom of speech as a Trojan horse for increasing its power and control over staff and students.'