Uni students fear being offended

University students actually believe they have “a right not to be offended”, Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor has said.

Professor Dame Louise Richardson, who will step down from her role in December after seven years, said it is ‘unfortunate and unhealthy’.

Her comments come as concerns rise over the threats to free speech on university campuses.

‘Quiet no-platforming’

Dame Louise said: “My own view is that all legal speech should be welcomed at universities” and that students should be prepared to “hear the other side” of arguments.

A recent report by the Higher Education Policy Institute highlighted instances of ‘quiet no-platforming’ of speakers by student organisers over fears of opposition and intimidation.

Research by the Policy Institute at King’s College London found that almost half of students (49 per cent) think universities “are becoming less tolerant of a wide range of viewpoints”.

More than half (51 per cent) agreed that their institution’s climate prevents people from voicing their beliefs for fear of offending others, while 34 per cent admitted to personally withholding their opinion on the topic of ‘gender identity’.

‘Respect free speech’

Last week, Professor Kathleen Stock, who was pushed out of her post at Sussex University last year by trans activists, took part in a debate at the Cambridge Union amid noisy protests.

Stock told students that “social media has made everybody very frightened of causing offence”.

Following the event, she tweeted: “Can’t say I had most fun evening but I respect free speech of protestors and those defaming me in the chamber.”

Also see:


Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor: ‘Free speech and academic freedom must be preserved’

Hostile woke culture stifling free speech in universities

Gender-critical prof quits after campaign of abuse by trans activists

Sharp rise in rejected speakers on campuses raises free speech concerns

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