(2-minute read)

Get prepared for a significant transformation at your institution. But it doesn’t have to be like walking a tightrope! With the UK government's Freedom of Speech (Higher Education) Act 2023 being implemented in England, steady yourself for a period of substantial change. Universities and higher education providers are entering a new chapter where the promotion of freedom of speech takes centre stage, all while being closely regulated by the Office for Students (OfS).

However, this journey won’t be easy. Meeting the needs of your students, staff and senior leaders and governors, whilst dealing with the complexities of these significant adjustments doesn’t have to send you off balance. From grasping the nuances of the new regulations to steering clear of potential obstacles, there’s no room for complacency.

Here, SUMS Associate Consultant Christine Fraser provides practical advice for institutions to safely negotiate this balancing act!

Read the full Freedom of speech and academic freedom briefing paper here
(Full paper 5-minute read)

Key Freedom of Speech recommendations

  • Reviewing organisational risk registers and ensuring the duty is referenced appropriately
  • Ensuring organisational structures are fit for purpose for the new duty, including governance structures
  • Reviewing policies and processes holistically to take legislative changes into account that will impact the university across the board
  • Reviewing organisational complaints processes to reflect differences between those covered by the new legislation and those which are not. This includes necessary changes to report and support tools
  • Carrying out work with staff and students to better understand the culture of the university in terms of free speech, establishing a baseline for the organisational culture and what might need to change
  • Ensuring communications policies are fit for purpose, particularly for social media use.

With expertise covering governance, policy and employment law, the team at SUMS Consulting would be happy to help in supporting conversations further.

If you wish to discuss these topics further or need any additional information, please contact Christine on christine.fraser@reading.ac.uk

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