Christian and pro-life groups to benefit from Government's university free speech plans

(Photo: Nathan Dumlao)

The Christian Institute has welcomed the introduction of new fines for universities that do not meet their free speech obligations. 

The Department for Education is to introduce a new free speech obligation on higher education providers as a condition to access public funding.

Regulatory body the Office for Students has been given powers to impose fines on institutions that fail to meet the condition. 

The Christian Institute says the plans are a welcome boost to free speech at universities that will benefit Christian student groups, pro-life groups and church student workers. 

In a move that may end the recent trend of 'no-platforming' at campus events, students unions will for the first time be forced to ensure free speech is upheld for their members and guest speakers.

Anyone who has been expelled, dismissed or demoted for lawful free speech will also be entitled to seek compensation through the courts. 

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, said: "For too long universities have been at the heart of the kind of stultifying 'group think' that banishes Christian ideas, and those who think them, to the margins.

"The 'cancel culture' we see eating its way through our national life started out on university campuses. Instead of promoting free speech, universities and student unions have spent years attacking it.

"We all know cases of Christian Unions being disaffiliated from the Student Union – usually for holding orthodox beliefs about sexual ethics. We've all heard stories of Christian groups having their event bookings cancelled, or pro-life groups being effectively voted off campus.

"And many Christian students and academic staff can testify to the difficulty they face trying to advance any ideas that don't fit with the narrow, secularist, socially liberal ideology that dominates university campuses.

"Giving people the ability to enforce their free speech rights against universities and student unions will give a welcome boost to CUs and pro-life groups, as well as to individual students and staff."