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Universities NUS: Free speech must be balanced against threats

FREE speech rules at universities must balance the need to keep students "safe from harm" against "outwardly racist rhetoric or fascist ideology," the National Union of Students (NUS) warned yesterday.

NUS vice president for higher education Amatey Doku said guidance on the issue, which centres around the rise of "no-platforming" and "safe spaces," is confusing, with universities and student unions forced to "juggle multiple, often conflicting" legal duties.

As she spoke, Universities Minister Sam Gyimah held a summit on free speech, warning that institutions must stamp out "institutional hostility" to views that are unfashionable or unpopular.

Ministers are offering to work with institutions to draw up new rules ensuring students are exposed to different views and debates in the biggest government intervention on the issue in over 30 years, the Department for Education said.

Mr Gyimah said he is calling on universities and colleges "to stamp out the 'institutional hostility' to unfashionable views that have emerged in some student societies."

He said: "A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling."

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