A University campus is supposed to be renowned for allowing students and staff to engage in freedom of speech – without having policies or rules in place to limit this. However, a recent report by Spiked Online has suggested that very few Universities actually actively promote freedom of speech, with many supposedly actively blocking free speech from their campus. Anglia Ruskin University however was awarded a ‘green’ ranking – the best possible – denoting that it has a “hands-off approach to free speech”.
The report was the latest annual edition of Spiked Online‘s free speech rankings, with 115 Universities being ranked. They examine any policies or actions that the University or Student Union has, and analyses the threat each poses to freedom of speech on campus. These can include specific speakers being banned, censorship and other policies. The organisation subsequently rank each University using a traffic-light system. Red denotes the institution is ‘hostile to free speech’. Amber suggests it ‘chills free speech’, with Green meaning the institution has a ‘hands-off approach to free speech’. Click here for a full explanation.
Anglia Ruskin University is an example of an institution that has made impressive improvements in recent years with freedom of speech. The institution was given a ‘Green’ rating this year. The study noted that the University and Students’ Union ‘collectively create an open environment for free speech’. In 2015, Anglia Ruskin was given a ‘red’ rating, before two years at ‘Amber’. Therefore, the University have been steadily advancing. Achieving a green rating is an impressive feat for the University.
Only seven of the 115 institutions were given a green rating. The University of Buckingham, Robert Gordon University, University of Hertfordshire, Trinity St. David, UWS and the University of Winchester were those to secure the rating. Unfortunately, 63 Universities were given a ‘red’ ranking. 45 Universities attained an amber rating. It should be noted that some have disputed the accuracy and methodology of these findings. Yet by using a consistent model, these rankings can certainly be considered reliable to analyse.
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So a positive result for Anglia Ruskin University! In the contemporary age, it is difficult to avoid causing people offence with seemingly innocuous actions. A University is somewhere that freedom of speech should be encouraged and harnessed to help students debate and achieve their potential. It is therefore disappointing to see so many Universities criticised for their stance on freedom of speech – though also a clear sign of living in the current world we do. But at least for students at Anglia Ruskin – freedom of speech is going strong.