Universities Minister Jo Johnson attacks University ‘Safe Spaces’
Universities minister Jo Johnson yesterday condemned ‘no-platforming’ and the so-called ‘safe spaces’ on university campuses.
He has stated that “Freedom of speech is a fundamentally British value which is undermined by a reluctance of institutions to embrace healthy vigorous debate. Our universities must open minds not close them.”
In this move, Johnson has put more flesh on the bones of his new ‘Office for Students’ (OfS) body which will allegedly be responsible for fining, suspending, or even deregistering universities that fail to meet these new requirements for free speech.
This comes at a time of high tensions between students and student unions. Most recently, feminist Germaine Greer was subject to a torrent of abuse and attempts to block her from speaking at the University of Cardiff. Protesters cited that she should be silenced due to her supposed ‘transphobic’ views. Commenting on this situation, Johnson called the attempts to silence Greer “preposterous”.
A recent survey by magazine Spiked found that 94% of UK universities censor their students.
With polls showing that 63% of university students support the National Union of Students’ (NUS) no-platforming policy, questions will be raised as to whether associated student unions will now be incompatible with the NUS.