Fri 12 Aug 22
An article was published on The Times website on Tuesday (behind a paywall) and in the printed edition on Wednesday, on the use of content notes and the removal of material from reading lists. The article draws on an FOI request that we responded to and subsequent engagement with our Communications Team, following discussion with colleagues in the relevant academic department.
The article raises serious issues and we are taking the following action:
The article does raise some issues related to freedom of speech. As we have clearly stated, all universities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom and freedom of speech within the law. At the University we have a vital role to play in convening difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations on our campuses and through our online events, and in curating the spaces in which ideas that some may find challenging or unpopular can be expressed and debated. We regularly review our policies and practices in the light of our experience.
We are committed to enabling people to speak freely within the law by providing a supportive and inclusive environment, within which people can expect to learn, grow and develop through challenge. As a community this means that we may encounter ideas or arguments which may be experienced as objectionable or offensive, with a line drawn at conduct which is unlawful or contrary to the full breadth of the University’s policies. The Vice-Chancellor has asked the PVC Education to review our University guidance or policies on: i) withdrawal of content in modules; ii) content notes; and iii) leading difficult conversations in teaching sessions. Should there be any proposed changes to current practice they will be considered through our University decision making procedures, including Senate.