Freedom of Speech Contents



First Principles


The University setting

The Charity Commission for England and Wales

The role of the Office for Students

The Prevent duty

Clarity and consistency

1 Introduction


Our inquiry

Key findings

Structure of this Report

2 The legal and regulatory framework


Legal framework relevant to freedom of speech in universities

Competing duties

Regulation of universities and student unions

The role of the Office for Students in promoting freedom of speech

3 The scale of the problem

4 Factors inhibiting freedom of speech

Student activity

No platforming policies

Intolerance towards some groups and issues & disruptive protests

Safe spaces

Regulatory barriers

Prevent duty

Charity Commission’s regulation of student unions


5 The way forward

Conclusions and recommendations

Annex 1: Free speech: guidance for universities and students organising events

Annex 2: Student union officer survey results

Annex 3: Student web forum results

Appendix: Codes of practice on freedom of speech

Declaration of Lords’ Interests

Formal minutes


Published written evidence

List of Reports from the Committee during the current Parliament

Published: 27 March 2018 by authority of the House of Commons and House of Lords