The education secretary, Gavin Williamson will announce the new policy this week.
In an exclusive report from The Sunday Telegraph, it has been revealed that ministers will give fines to universities that stifle freedom of speech.
On Tuesday 16 February, the Education secretary, Gavin Williamson will be announcing the “Free Speech Champion” role at universities.
Whoever steps into the role will be given the powers to defend “free speech” by imposing fines on student unions that restrict speech unlawfully or if individuals are dismissed or demoted based on their views.
The Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has also called on 25 of the UK’s most well-known heritage bodies and charities to come together “to defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down”.
This new role and rule are reportedly created to battle ‘cancel culture’ while telling heritage groups that “public funds must never be used for political purposes”.
An anonymous source told the Telegraph: “Free speech underpins our democratic society and our universities have a long and proud history of being places where students and academic can express themselves freely, challenge views and cultivate an open, inquiring mind.”
“Unacceptable silencing and censoring on campuses is having a chilling effect and 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.”
Since the news broke, people have expressed their concerns that this extreme new mandate will give people an excuse to promote racism, homophobia and antisemitism.
Dr Lisa Tilley, a lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London opened up about the new role and regulations, stating: “Free speech here means racist, fascist, transphobic, anti-semitic, Islamophobic (etc) speech *free from* opposition accountability and consequences. Universities need to reject this authoritarian move which goes well beyond Trumpism.”
‘Free speech’ here means racist, fascist, transphobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic (etc) speech *free from* opposition, accountability & consequences. Universities need to reject this authoritarian move which goes well beyond Trumpism. pic.twitter.com/Y8DtWpzGHU
— Lisa Tilley (@Tilley101) February 14, 2021
“We are in two months of 2021 and my employers has had demands from two sets of far-right folk that I be fired. Some how I have a feeling that it isn’t MY academic freedom that this govt cares about,” Sunny Sing, a professor at London Metropolitan University tweeted.
We are in two months of 2021 and my employer has had demands from two sets of far right folk that I be fired.
Some how I have a feeling that it isn’t MY academic freedom that this govt cares about…. https://t.co/fXzTrqXmEX
— Sunny Singh (@ProfSunnySingh) February 14, 2021
Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley also tweeted her concern over the governments’ new policy, stating: “So this weekend, the government has launched a policy that is a) cancel culture is a threat to society and “academic freedom” must be protected
“AND simultaneously b) we will tell you what you can and cannot write about and we will refuse to fund you if you do not acquiesce.”
So this weekend, the government has launched a policy that is a) cancel culture is a threat to society and “academic freedom” must be protected, AND simultaneously b) we will tell you what you can and cannot write about and we will refuse to fund you if you do not acquiesce
— Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley (@lottelydia) February 14, 2021