The Free Speech University Rankings 2016 Have Been Released - And People Are Not Happy

18/01/2016 12:15 | Updated 18 January 2016
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Nine in 10 universities in the UK censor or regulate free speech, with more than half of campuses deemed a "hostile environment" for free speech, it has emerged.

Online magazine spiked released its free speech rankings for 2016 which revealed the problem of universities censoring speakers has worsened.

Using a traffic light ratings system, 41% of universities were deemed "red" - meaning they actively censor speech - in 2015, compared to 55% this year. Only 10% of universities were rated "green" - meaning they have not restricted or regulated speech - a number which has halved since last year.

Students' unions are four times more likely to be ranked "red" than their universities, with Aberystwyth, Leeds, LSE, Swansea and Edinburgh rated the most "ban-happy".

In just one year, the students' union at the University of East Anglia banned The Sun, sombreros and the hockey team after it played a game of "gay chicken".

As a result, the university overall moved from a green rating in 2015 to a red rating.

Of the 115 universities ranked, 30 institutions have banned newspapers, 25 have banned songs, while 20 have banned clubs or societies.

Nearly two in five universities have no platform policies, with more than one in five having safe space policies.

Oxford University's chancellor Lord Patten recently criticised students campaigning to have a "racist" statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes removed for challenging Oxford's "freedom of debate".

"Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been according to our contemporary views and prejudices," he said.

In October, students at Cardiff University attempted to no platform feminist Germaine Greer, who was due to deliver a lecture at the institution, for her "transphobic views".

Students from Brunel University were lauded for their reaction to Katie Hopkins speaking at their institution; instead of campaigning to no platform the columnist, they simply staged a mass walk-out of her lecture.

Tom Slater, deputy editor of spiked, said the free expression issue is "bleaker than anyone could have imagined".

"Campus bureaucrats don’t even trust students to dress themselves, let alone think for themselves," he continued. "Campus censorship has become institutionalised."

Others were quick to express their dismay at the rise in censorship.

Slater added: "Many universities have begun to speak out against the censorious excesses of their students insisting that the likes of Germaine Greer speak in spite of student protests - but the vast majority of university administrations maintain byzantine systems of vetting and censorship."

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