Traditionally, universities were seen as spaces dedicated to learning, research and the free exchange of ideas. The freedom to say the unsayable, to question the unquestionable, was assumed to lie at the core of the university. But in recent years, the idea of academic freedom has come under attack: successive UK governments have viewed universities as potential breeding grounds for extremism and have urged academics to monitor dangerous ideas, from far-right nationalism to militant Islamism. Also, many student unions have taken it upon themselves to police what can and can’t be discussed on campus by operating ‘No Platform’ policies against views they deem unpalatable.
This assault on academic freedom was the subject of the most recent ‘spiked drinks’ debate, titled ‘Academic Freedom in Illiberal Times’, which was held in the Houses of Parliament on 11 November, in partnership with Academics for Academic Freedom and Times Higher Education.
Read the Times Higher Education’s write-up of the event here.
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