13:15 GMT +323 January 2018
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    Brave New World

    Britain Clamps Down on 'No-Platforming' in Universities

    Brave New World
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    John Harrison
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    In an apparent turn around, British universities that allow ‘no platforming’ and ‘safe spaces’ could face action from a new higher education regulator with the power to fine, suspend or deregister universities if they infringe on their statutory duty to allow free speech.

    Len Firewood, a retired IT consultant who is also a cultural commentator and long term free speech advocate discusses this issue.

    Len makes the point that the very concept of ‘no platforming' and ‘safe spaces' runs contrary to the spirit of what universities are actually for.

    A discussion is held as to how the new body intends to implement new regulations. Len says a new ‘Office for Students' will play a key role. "It's not just a student body it actually has regulatory powers as well, and that's the whole thing behind this announcement. The bill is actually already on the statute books, although from reading newspaper reports this was not made clear, in fact it has been on the statute books since April of last year. …You have to recognize that this is part of a much larger bill, it's part of the Education and Research Act 2017, it's a very large bill, and this is just a small part of it."

    Why another administrative body is needed, on top of the administrative resources which already exist, is also discussed, and Len explains that it has been clear that students' interests have not been clearly represented at present. John Harrison raises the point that the establishment of a regulatory body which is higher than the universities presents a threat for democracy by its mere existence. Len answers that a threat to democracy already exists, through the prevention of certain speakers to voice their views in universities. Len thinks that overall the new bill is a good thing, because "the situation where students dictate what education is, and at the same time want to learn, is completely the wrong way round."

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    Tags:
    no-platforming, Free Speech, universities, democracy, students, Britain
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