Today, Universities UK released their report on freedom of speech and security on campus.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism shares the view of the Union of Jewish students that the report is disappointing.
Despite a wait of over a year for this report, UUK have failed to provide clear, practical guidance to the sector on the issue of hate speech and extremism on campus. Whilst some good practice is highlighted, it is unlikely a coherent and unified approach can be taken by the sector as a result of this guidance. As the report notes, there are no “easy answers” when trying to strike the balance between freedom of speech and student welfare. However, this report provides little in the way of practical measures to tackle the problems.
The Universities Minister David Willetts promised to set out the Government position on these matters once UUK had released their report. We hope he will now do so in a timely manner and highlight the Manchester University Guidelines which were passed to him and UUK and which set out practical actions that Universities and Student Unions can take.
The Union of Jewish Students was hosted by the APPG Against Antisemitism in Parliament a fortnight ago where they lobbied MPs about these very matters. Lillian Greenwood MP asked the Universities Minister about hate speech on campus during business questions only yesterday and in the Jewish News this week, Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP praises the UJS campaign. Surely, with political agreement that practical action needs to be taken, more can and should be done than is set out in the UUK report.
John Mann MP, chair of the APPG Against Antisemitism said: There is cross-party support and demand for practical action, it is a shame UUK have failed to deliver that.
Danny Stone of the PCAA Foundation which provides secretariat to the APPG said: This report underlines all the problems that have persisted throughout our campaign to ensure a calmer, better regulated environment on campus exists. It offers little by way of practical support. We need to see a more coherent, sector-wide approach to this problem to empower those whom are most vulnerable.