Calls grow for free speech protections in Scots universities

Pressure is mounting on Holyrood to follow England’s example and require higher education providers in Scotland to promote free speech on their campuses.

Under the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, universities and colleges in England could face fines if they fail in their new legal duties to protect and promote free speech.

According to The Times, politicians and academics in Scotland are calling for similar protections to be introduced by the Scottish Government.

Silence plight

Oliver Mundell MSP said to The Times: “If the SNP were truly serious about ensuring that our universities remain at the forefront of free speech, then they should seriously consider how further legal protections can be put into law in Scotland.”

He added: “The new education secretary should also engage closely with Scottish universities to avoid any potential dilution of free speech at our institutions.”

The newspaper also reported on the recent attempt to silence senior academics at the University of Edinburgh over the renaming of a University building and the plight of a student at Abertay University, who faces disciplinary action for contradicting transgender ideology in lectures.


Last year, an investigation by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and the Alliance of Pro-Life Students (APS) highlighted particular discrimination against pro-life groups at the universities of Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Following the publication of their findings, SPUC and APS sent a joint letter to MSPs, calling on the Scottish Parliament to “address the censorship epidemic our universities are facing”.

According to a 2020 report by think-tank Civitas, the universities of St Andrews and Dundee are some of the “most restrictive” for free speech in the UK, following multiple “reported controversies relating to censorship”.

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