The state of free speech in UK universities

Think tank: The Policy Institute

Author(s): Bobby Duffy

September 1, 2022

This briefing from UK think tank the Policy Institute looks at what students and the public think about free speech in UK universities.

There is strong agreement among students that their university is protecting freedom of expression and robust debate, as well as academic freedom – but growing minorities nonetheless feel free speech is under threat at their institution, with perceptions of a “chilling effect” also increasing.

The research is based on two new representative surveys of UK university students, amounting to almost 2,500 polled, as well as several representative surveys of the general public, carried out to identify where views on these issues diverge between the two groups. The study was designed to allow comparisons with a previous survey carried out in 2019, to reveal trends in attitudes and perceptions since then.