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Freedom of Speech – Bath Spa University

Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech

Bath Spa University values diversity and is committed to the principles of academic freedom.


  1. Freedom of speech and expression are core to the University’s values. We believe that an atmosphere of tolerance is essential to enable open discussion and debate of a wide variety of ideas, some of which may be controversial.

    This Policy is issued in accordance with section 43 of the Education [No 2] Act 1986 for the following purposes:

    • To identify the reasonably practicable steps that must be taken to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for all University Members and visitors; and

    • To specify arrangements for the management of meetings and events on University Premises which are not an integral part of the day-to-day academic or administrative business of the University.

  2. The Board of Governors are required by law to “take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”*

  3. In order to discharge this legal duty, the Board of Governors has established this code of practice establishing procedures for meetings, events and other activities taking place on University premises and the conduct of staff, students and any other attendees of such meetings.

  4. The obligation to secure freedom of speech is not absolute and certain limitations are imposed by the law. For example, the law prohibits threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour in circumstances where it is likely that racial hatred will be stirred up, or inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organisation. The laws relating to equality and discrimination also require the University to have due regard for the need to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation.  The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 imposes a duty on the University to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

  5. This policy takes into account the External Speakers in Higher Education Institutions guidance issued by Universities UK in March 2014, the Compliance Toolkit – Protecting Charities from Harm guidance issued by the Charity Commission and the Gender Segregation at Events and Meetings - Guidance for Universities and Students’ Unions issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in July 2014.

  6. This policy covers all employees, officers, consultants, contractors, casual workers and agencies workers of the University together with all visiting and honorary members of staff, and students, and any attendees of meetings, events or activities held on University premises.

  7. This code of practice does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

*Section 43 (1) Education (No.2) Act 1986

Date of next review: No later than October 2019
Department/Post responsible: Director of Corporate and External Relations

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