The new proposals from our Conservative government are a vital safeguarding of our precious freedom of speech. This is a great victory for students, staff and wider society. I'm delighted that these new proposal will directly benefit students here in Bournemouth studying at our fantastic Universities: Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University. It is simply unacceptable that Students feel that they cannot express themselves freely - out of fear of punishment by their institution. For more information, please read below from the Department for Education:
The proposed measures deliver on a manifesto commitment, and include a new free speech condition placed on higher education providers in order to be registered in England and access public funding. The regulator, the Office for Students, would have the power to impose sanctions, including financial penalties, for breaches of the condition.
The strengthened legal duties would also extend to Students Unions, which for the first time would have to take steps to ensure that lawful free speech is secured for their members and others, including visiting speakers.
In addition, a new legal measure would enable individuals to seek compensation through the courts if they suffer loss as a result of breach of the free speech duties – such as being expelled, dismissed or demoted.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
"Free speech underpins our democratic society and our universities have a long and proud history of being places where students and academics can express themselves freely, challenge views and cultivate an open mind.
But I am deeply worried about the chilling effect on campuses of unacceptable silencing and censoring. That is why we must strengthen free speech in higher education, by bolstering the existing legal duties and ensuring strong, robust action is taken if these are breached."
I'm sure like me, you will be encouraged by the steps being taken to protect free speech. If you would like to read more, follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-proposals-to-strengthen-fre…
If you would like to get in contact with me about this, or any other, issue - please email me on Conor.Burns.MP@Parliament.UK