The British Government has been accused of "fighting ghost threats for freedom of expression" after announcing a series of legal measures to "strengthen" academic freedom in England.

Proposals from the Department of Education include new conditions of freedom of expression for higher education providers will be recorded in England and access public financing. The regulator of the sector, the Student Office, would have the power to impose sanctions, including financial penalties for violations of the condition.

The hardest legal measures would also be extended to student unions, which for the first time would be to take measures to ensure that freedom of legal expression is assured for its members and others, including visitors speakers . The times of higher education were reported in September, the legislation on freedom was expected to be directed to the students' unions.

Under the plans, people could also seek compensation through the courts if they suffered losses as a result of the violation of the duties of freedom of expression, such as being expelled, dismissed or degraded.

The announcement also confirmed that the Government is scheduled to appoint a "champion of speech and academic freedom" within the Student Office to investigate the potential violations of freedom of expression, such as speakers without Platforms or the dismissal of academics. The champion would have the power of good universities or unions of students judged to erroneously restrict freedom of expression.

The proposals follow a recent orientation letter by the Gavin Williamson Secretary of Education Secretary, who covered issues including regulation of quality and academic freedom. Experts told time of higher education this week that the approach adopted by Williamson in the Charter could be "establishing a wall between the regulator and the leadership of the universities."

Announcing the new measures, Williamson said he was "deeply concerned about the chilling effect on the unacceptable silencing and censorship campuses."

"Therefore we must strengthen freedom of expression in higher education, by reinforcing existing legal duties and guaranteeing strong and robust action if they are violated," he added.

The Executive Director of the Student Office, Nicola Dandridge, said that "universities and schools have legal duties to protect both the freedom of speech and academic freedom, and their fulfillment with these responsibilities form An important part of your registration conditions with the Student Office ".

"We will make sure that the changes resulting from today's proposals reinforce these responsibilities and embed the wider definition of freedom of expression. Within the law," he said.

But the General Secretary of the University and the Union of the Un University GRADY said that "Actually, the greatest threats to academic freedom and freedom of expression do not come from staff and students, or from He called to cancel the culture, but of the own attempts of the police ministers which can and can not be said on campus, and the breach of endemic approaches of insecurity and management of endemic jobs, which means that the Academics are less capable of talking truth. "

"is extraordinary that in the midst of a global pandemic, the government appears more interested in fighting ghost threats to freedom of expression that take measures to contain the real and present danger that the virus represents the staff And the students, "he added.

Hillary Gyebi-Ababiio, the National Union of the Vice President of Higher Education of the students, said it would be much better to focus on providing practical support that students desperately need ... instead of attacking seeing and institutions that have intensified to fill the gaps in support offered ".

" There is no evidence of a freedom crisis on campus, and students' unions are constantly taking steps Positive to help facilitate the thousands of events that take place every year, "he said.


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