Claims that universities are inhibiting free speech are based mostly on deceptive proof “whipped as much as create an ethical panic”, a college chief has advised a Parliamentary committee.
Universities thrive on free speech mentioned Sussex College Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Tickell.
The previous universities minister, Jo Johnson has voiced concern that free speech is limited at some universities.
The proof is a part of a Parliamentary inquiry into campus free speech guidelines.
“We hear all types of claims of the inhibition and chilling of free speech in British universities however the proof base for it’s anaemically small,” Prof Tickell advised the joint choose committee on human rights.
He mentioned criticism of his college’s free speech document had stemmed from a campus rule banning using derogatory language referring to ladies and “folks of color” and since the coed union wished to examine posters earlier than they had been put up.
These had been “issues not related to discussions round free speech”.
Audio system from the coed unions of Sussex and Edinburgh universities mentioned they’d by no means denied a speaker a platform on the premise of their views.
Frida Gustaffson, Sussex College scholar union president described how UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge last year decided not to go ahead with a planned speech after the coed union requested to vet his speech upfront.
She and Edinburgh College Scholar Union president Patrick Kilduff mentioned they did have a no-platform coverage for “six racist, fascist or extremist teams” drawn up by the Nationwide Union of College students.
“These processes have by no means stopped anybody coming to talk on the college,” mentioned Mr Kilduff.
Prof Tickell advised the committee that stories of books being faraway from college libraries had been baseless – though there have been cases of works by the writer David Irving being eliminated to restricted cabinets.
Baroness Amos, director of London’s Faculty of Oriental and African Research mentioned she didn’t suppose anybody had been no-platformed at her college up to now 10 years.
However she mentioned she had detected “a squeezing of our skill to be open, numerous, inclusive”.
She mentioned this was partly because of the authorities’s Prevent Strategy which locations universities beneath an obligation to cease extremism on campus.
“There are an entire vary of issues, how we deal with refugees, our visa coverage, how Forestall is applied.
“All of these items are having an influence on how younger folks of color, Muslims, really really feel by way of being beneath extra scrutiny.”
Mr Kilduff agreed that Forestall was having an impact on free speech on campus.
He added: “If we consider that free speech is so that folks can maintain fact to energy, particularly marginalised teams, that is stopping marginalised teams, Jewish college students, Muslim scholar, black and minority ethnic college students from having the ability to voice their issues and host occasions.”
The committee is planning to ask particular person college students from throughout the UK to share their views and tales on-line.
Particulars of how to participate shall be introduced later this yr.