Event Management Community of Practice: Free Speech

June 26th, 2024

Register now for the Event Management Community of Practice: Free Speech – Thursday 1 August 2024.

The new Higher Education (Free Speech) Act 2023 contains additional requirements for universities and students’ unions in relation to freedom of speech and academic freedom. The regulatory role of the Office for Students (OfS) in this area has been strengthened and extended to include students’ unions.

The OfS is also introducing a new free speech complaints process and has recruited a Director for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom to oversee work in this area.

Freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas are central to our mission of advancing truth, knowledge and understanding at the university and the Registrar is leading work to ensure this is embedded this across the institution, ensuring we are compliant with the legal and regulatory expectations.

As part of this work, we have recently reviewed and updated our statement on Free Speech and Academic Freedom.  We already have a Code of Practice on Meetings & Other Activities on university Premises, which should be followed when booking events. This is being reviewed and a new Free Speech Code of Practice and supporting resources will be published in the coming months.

The additional procedures we are required to introduce are intended to be as clear and streamlined as possible while ensuring we meet our legal and regulatory obligations, but they will mean that further planning and reporting will be necessary in many cases. However, the approach we have taken anticipated the new framework and our policy and procedures on free speech and academic freedom are very much in line with what is now expected.

The timetable set out by the Office for Students is as follows:

  • 1 August 2024 – the new statutory duties on free speech come into force and the Office for Students launches its new free speech complaints scheme.
  • 1 September 2025 – the new conditions of registration with the Office for Students come into force, along with the monitoring of overseas funding

More information on the Higher Education (Free Speech) Act 2023 and the role of the Office for Students in this area is available here.

Register now for the Event Management Community of Practice: Free Speech – Thursday 1 August.

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