The number of rejected university speakers has “significantly increased”, raising concerns about freedom of speech.

From 2020 to 2021, there is growing concern that about 200 speaker requests and events will be rejected by UK universities and other higher education institutions, new numbers will be shown, and more cancel culture cases will occur. ..

Professor Dennis Hayes, President of Academic for Academic Freedom (AFAF) at Academic Freedom (AFAF), told The Epoch Times in an email: One world-famous artist, canceled by a mob, said many believed that he “wants a simple life and therefore surrenders to their demands.”

The Office for Student (OfS) figures show that of the 19,407 external speaker requests or events, 193 were rejected between 2020 and 2021, compared with 94 between 2019 and 2020. It shows that there were 141 cases from 2018 to 2019 and 53 cases in 2017. – 2018. Depending on the conditions, about 632 events have progressed.

Significant increase

Susan Lapworth, Interim Chief Executive Officer of OfS, shows that more than 99% of event and speaker requests were approved between 2020 and 2021, and in general, “Universities and Universities It suggests that it continues to be a place for discussion and sharing of ideas. It can prosper. “

“But it’s true that in 2020/21 the number and percentage of rejections surged and nearly 200 speakers or events were rejected,” Lapworth said.

The OfS report also found that about 47 cases were formally referred to external preventive agencies. Prevention obligations are intended to prevent people from being involved in terrorism.

“Of S data [are] Interestingly, they haven’t followed up on unprevented cases. There may be a lot of subjectivity in these cases. It’s difficult to know without the details of each case, “Haze added.

“Doesn’t really surprise me”

British conceptual and data artist Rachel Ara Said The Daiki Genjiho canceled the lecture at Oxford Brookes University in 2019 after LGBTQ + social students complained about distinguishing between biological gender and gender identity. Ara said barristers liked one tweet by Allison Bailey, who is suing LGBTQ + charity Stonewall.

“It doesn’t really surprise me,” she told the Epoch Times about the rise of rejected speakers. Ala’s work has been widely acclaimed and has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Whitechapel Gallery, Barbican, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea, and Mack in Vienna.

“Some students are very loud and put a lot of pressure on the institution not to make certain people a platform. Unfortunately, the staff seems to be seriously lacking the backbone and have a simple life. They surrender to their demands because they want, and they also know that their work may be threatened, “added a former V & A resident artist.

“It could be a relatively organized process, as in my case. Focus groups tweet specific student groups and mobilize to protest some speakers. At that time, I’m sure they don’t know why. There is little critical analysis. They are only told that the wrong person is connected to the platform and they create a mini hysteria. We absolutely have to stop doing that, “says Ara.

at the time, Oxford Brookes University told the telegram Ara’s talk was “postponed” in 2019 because “it wasn’t booked in the normal process of identifying external speakers,” and “through this process, the talk will start online next month.” Added.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill is a bill enacted by the British Parliament that imposes requirements on universities and student unions to protect free speech. It is currently in the committee stage of the House of Lords.

At the time, the government said the bill was in the light of an example of a “chilling effect” that students, staff, and invited speakers felt unable to speak. In one case, the Bristol Middle East Forum was charged a security fee of around £ 500 to invite the Israeli ambassador to speak at the event. Since then, the government has stated that there is a need for “toothed” laws that protect freedom of speech on university campuses.

OfS said a new board of directors for freedom of speech and academic freedom would join the board, and the government said that “universities, universities and student unions that violated (new) obligations could face sanctions, including fines. There is. “

Lapworth said universities need to take steps to “ensure freedom of speech within the limits of the law,” not only by arranging external speakers, but also in lecture rooms, seminar rooms, or the entire academic community. He said that it also applies to the debate and debate.

“Topics that may be offensive or controversial for some people need to be open to free discussion in those contexts,” she said.

She said OfS continues to regulate universities to ensure they meet their obligations, “organizations are ready to intervene if they are concerned that this may not be the case in this fundamentally important area.” rice field.

Does not support much freedom of speech

In June, the Institute for Higher Education Policy surveyed 1,000 full-time undergraduates on the issue of free speech and concluded that students were less supportive of free speech than they were just a few years ago. I did.

New results have been steadily increasing since 2016, things seem to be “too far in one direction” and students want to impose even tighter restrictions on things that were often considered normal in the past. ..

At the time, Eric Kaufmann, a professor of political science at the University of London at Birkbeck and author of “Whiteshift: The Future of Populism, Immigration, and the White Majority,” described the driving force behind the cancellation culture as “left modernism.” I expressed it. He says it is a modern hegemonic ideology in elite institutions.

“The whole philosophy, as a form of religious awakening, which I call cultural socialism, is predominant among students and young people,” he said. , And other values ​​of enlightenment, “he said.

PA contributed to this report.

Owen Evans


Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist who covers stories from a wide range of countries with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.