We are now in an election period (sometimes called ‘purdah’) and the Cabinet Office has released guidance aimed at upholding the impartiality of the Civil Service. The election period ends when a new government is formed.
As a university, we are not bound by these rules for civil servants and non-departmental public bodies. However, as a charity, electoral law and Charity Commission regulations do affect what we’re able to say and do as an organisation. This does not, of course, affect what staff are able to say and do in a private capacity.
During elections, universities are still able to publish and promote academic research and analysis on topical issues relevant to the election and host seminars and discussions on those issues. Academic freedom of speech remains vital and individual academics make an important contribution to public debates around science and policy.
Universities and Students Unions can also host a debate between candidates or invite them to issue-focussed events and speak to candidates and seek their views on issues. The SU at Bath often organises hustings on campus for students, for example.
However, as a politically impartial organisation, the University should not:
Advocate for or endorse the views of any individual party or candidate;
Explicitly compare the university’s views to those of individual parties or candidates;
Donate funds to any individual party or candidate;
Allow our organisation to be cited in a candidate’s manifesto or publicity materials;
Only interact with/offer opportunities to a single party or limited range of candidates.
Research Councils, as arms-length bodies of government, are covered by the general principles and conventions of the Cabinet Office guidance. We will seek further guidance from them on a case by case basis on any issues arising like publicity around funding announcements.
The University’s communications protocol can help with identifying who to contact should you have any questions.