Hertfordshire Uni Among the Best for Freedom of Speech, Study Says


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. In some good news for students at the University of Hertfordshire, the institution was given a ‘green’ ranking – denoting it has a “hands-off approach to free speech”.


Freedom of speech is an important element of University


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 being the best. Click here for a full explanation.




In some good news for students at the University of Hertfordshire – the institution was given a ‘Green’ rating – the best possible. The study noted that there were no policies or actions in place from the University that restricted freedom of speech. The same could be said for the Students’ Union, which also didn’t restrict freedom of speech in any way. This marks the fourth successive year that Hertfordshire attained a green rating – and is an impressive achievement for the University – especially given the importance of freedom of speech.



Several Universities have blocked some speakers from attending their campus


Only seven of the 115 institutions were given a green rating. Anglia Ruskin University, University of Buckingham, Robert Gordon University, Trinity St. David, UWS and the University of Winchester were those to secure the rating alongside Hertfordshire. 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.




So a positive result for the University of Hertfordshire. 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 Hertfordshire – freedom of speech is going strong.





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