Freedom of Speech in Universities: Responses Contents

Appendix 2: Letter from Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation

I am writing to update you on the steps I have taken to address the issues around free speech on campus since I gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on 7 February.

You may recall that I committed during my evidence session to hold a free speech summit. I chaired this meeting Thursday 3rd May. My intention was to bring together leaders in the higher education sector to consider how we might simplify and clarify the complex web of guidance that surrounds freedom of speech in universities and student unions. I am pleased to say the summit was attended by representatives from the Charity Commission, the Office for Students, the National Union of Students, Universities UK, independentHE, GuildHE and the European Human Rights Commission.

All parties agreed to collaborate on a single, clear piece of guidance to universities and student unions, setting out core principles for protecting and promoting free speech, and bringing together existing guidance and legislation. I have requested the EHRC lead this work and report to me on progress over the summer. We aim to produce this guidance by Autumn 2018.

I would like to thank you for the work you and the Committee did to look into this issue. The Government will be responding to the recommendations from the inquiry shortly.

Rt Hon Sam Gyimah MP

Published: 13 July 2018