NUS comment on new amendments to the Freedom of Speech Bill

NUS comment on new amendments to the Freedom of Speech Bill

Commenting on Government amendments tabled today (Monday 13th June) to the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, an NUS spokesperson said: 

“Students’ unions are committed to freedom of expression and are the very home of rigorous debate and new ideas. With just six out of 10,000 events with external speakers at SU’s cancelled in 2019/20, there is no evidence of a freedom of speech crisis on campuses. Students’ unions are constantly taking positive steps to help facilitate the thousands of events that take place each year. 

“We don’t believe that external speaker events should be cancelled due to a society - who in the majority of cases are not legally distinct from SUs - feeling unable to meet security costs. Through grant funding, students’ unions should be suitably resourced so they can meet the security costs for external speaker events. 

“So it’s deeply disappointing that the Government have rejected amendments that SUs be funded to undertake the new duties being placed on them. Instead, they are disincentivising future external speaker events on campuses by proposing that SUs should be exposed to potentially large financial liabilities without support. 

“At a time when students are facing untold hardship the government would be much better advised to focus on providing the practical support that students desperately need, through maintenance grants, rent caps and cost of living payments, rather than attacking the very institutions that have stepped up to fill the gaps in support being offered”. 

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