The University of Southampton is the only Russell Group University not to have been flagged-up as being either ‘amber’ or ‘red’ in Spiked’s Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) traffic-light ranking system.
The stifling of free speech at the UK’s universities is now ‘an epidemic’ as it is revealed students’ Unions are four times more likely to put bans in place on campus than the universities themselves, according to new data.
According to the data, UK institutions have enacted 148 bans, mainly from Student Unions, over the last three academic years. 125 of the bans were from Student Unions in relation to ‘safe space‘ policies while twenty-three were made by universities.
Thirty institutions have banned newspapers, twenty-five have banned songs, and twenty have banned sports clubs or societies, including pole fitness for being ‘linked to the multi-million-pound sex industry’. Findings have shown 90% of institutions are now censoring speech, up 10% from 2015.
Aberystwyth, Edinburgh, London School of Economics, Swansea and Leeds are the most restrictive, while Southampton, Winchester, Trinity St. David, Buckingham and Glasgow Caledonian are the least.
The most common cases of censorship were around transgender debates, atheism, and secularism, the boycott of Israel, ‘lad culture’, and Muslim clerics. Offensive hand gestures and sombreros have also been banned.
Tom Slater, co-coordinator of the rankings, states that Universities are meant for “unfettered debate and the pursuit of truth.” He said,
Today, in a time when campus bureaucrats see students as too vulnerable – or too easily led – to listen to difficult ideas, the entire purpose of the academy is being undermined, and the bar for censorship is only getting lower. Students aren’t even trusted to dress themselves – let alone think for themselves.