Academic freedom in the UK is being eroded. The situation is serious, and worsening.
Twenty-one out of the twenty-four Russell Group universities are officially associated with Stonewall, an organisation which calls for “no debate” on the positions it advocates. Government funding is tied to particular “targets”. Compulsory training courses with “correct” answers are appearing. Highly respected academics are refused publication when they challenge prevailing ideas. Some are suspended or fired for their beliefs. Others receive abuse and death-threats. All these pressures fall most heavily on younger researchers, whose careers are most dependent upon maintaining a “clean” reputation.
Many UK lecturers and students are privately worried by these developments. Publicly, however, they are reluctant to speak out against a movement they see as unstoppable. They don’t want to be thought of as troublemakers or, worse still, as giving comfort to the “wrong” side. Fear has cast a spell of silence.
The Committee for Academic Freedom aims to break this spell of silence. We are academics from all disciplines and of all points of view. We disagree on many issues, political and cultural. But we affirm without reservation the following three principles, which we hold to be central to the liberal university:
Staff and students at UK universities should be free, within the limits of the law, to express any opinion without fear of reprisal.
Staff and students at UK universities should not be compelled to express any opinion against their belief or conscience.
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