https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2017/10/30/education-in-the-media-monday-30-october-2017/

Education in the media: Monday 30 October 2017

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Today’s Education in the media blog focuses on freedom of speech at universities.

Freedom of speech

Today The Times, The Daily Mail and The Express have all written up pieces on claims first made in The Sunday Telegraph that students fear they will be marked down if they highlight pro-Brexit viewpoints in their work.

The Sunday Telegraph piece uses anecdotal evidence from students who claimed “a genuine culture of contempt for Brexit” exists in faculties and that they “shouldn’t need to cloak [pro-Brexit] views to receive a grade reflective of an essay’s quality”.

A consultation on the new Office for Students (OfS) is currently underway, to help establish how it will ensure teaching standards continue to rise so all students receive a high-quality education. As part of the consultation, the Universities Minister Jo Johnson called on the OfS to champion free speech in UK universities. This was after the Government extended the statutory duty to secure free speech so that it will apply to all providers of higher education registered with the new Office for Students in the Higher Education and Research Act (HERA).

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

Universities must open minds not close them. That's why I have asked for the OfS to ensure that all universities fulfil their duty to promote freedom of speech and the role it plays in generating rigorous debate that advances understanding of controversial subjects.

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