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Freedom of expression

Regulation 18 protects the right to freedom of expression for the University's students, employees and visiting speakers.

It’s important that our students have the right to express views and ideas freely, without fear of interference or persecution. The University allows a wide range of views, even when they are unpopular, controversial or provocative. Respectful debate can strengthen our community, and discussion of issues helps us challenge discrimination and fight intolerance.

Freedom of Expression: Regulation 18

The University has a legal duty to protect students’ right to free speech and is covered by Regulation 18 (Code of Practice). This also covers University staff and visiting speakers. There are specific considerations when events are held on University premises, which are summarised below. The University aims to allow all events to go ahead, in line with current UK legislation that relates to Freedom of expression.

Process for organising an event

If you’re organising an event on University premises you must consider whether the views being discussed:

  • infringe the rights of others
  • discriminate against others
  • risk drawing people into terrorism*
  • risk breaking UK laws on hate crime

You must also consider whether the event:

  • is a criminal offence
  • incites others to commit a crime
  • threatens public order or safety
  • is contrary to people’s civil and human rights

A student or member of staff must be named as ‘Principal Organiser’ for any event, who is responsible for ensuring the event complies with the Code of Practice. If the topic of the event has the potential to offend, cause protests, contains extreme views or has a speaker from a political party the Principal Organiser must give at least two weeks’ notice to the Chief Compliance Officer, Dr Nicky Kemp, who is responsible for external speaker requests at the University.

For the full details, please read Regulation 18: Freedom of expression (last updated June 2021).

You can read the Students’ Union policy on handing events with external speakers, if you wish to organise an event through an SU society or student group.

*The Prevent duty guidance makes exceptions for Freedom of expression regulations for speakers with extremist views that risk drawing people into terrorism or are shared by terrorist groups. The UK Government also has a list of proscribed terror organisations.

Protesting at an event

If you wish to protest against an event on University premises you must also name a Principal Organiser, who will liaise with Security Services about the nature of the protest.

For the full details, please read Regulation 18: Freedom of expression (last updated November 2022).

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