Four out of five unis are censoring your freedom of speech

Stop muzzling me

A staggering 80 per cent of unis are restraining your freedom of expression, says a new study. 

In the past three years alone, finger-wagging bureaucrats in uni administrations and unions have issued 135 bans on songs, comedians, debates and religious and atheist societies.

Forty-seven unis ranked “Red” are actively stamping on free expression and 45 ranked “Amber” are restricting it with excessive regulation, according to research carried out by Spiked Magazine. The Tab is a partner of the project.

The worst unis branded “Red” include Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, KCL, Leeds, LSE, Oxford, UCL, UWE and Warwick.

Those most open to free speech are given a “Green” rating: Exeter, London Met, Southampton, St Andrews, UEA, Worcester and York are said to be among the best in the country.

Free speech rankings by uni

Pen-pushing unions have slapped down bans on:

• Newspapers and magazines: The Sun, the Daily Star, the Daily Express, Loaded, Nuts and FHM are forbidden at 32 unions.

• Songs: Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke is censored at 21 unions.

Societies: Sports teams, reading groups and religious and philosophy clubs have been muzzled at 12 unions. UCL’s Nietzsche society was suppressed because a union diktat branded it “fascist”.


Bleating apparatchiks use bullying, harassment and violation of safe space or no platform policies to shut down debate, say analysts at Spiked.

Ella Whelan, a recent Sussex grad and research coordinator said: “Students’ unions across the UK have banned Page 3, ‘Blurred Lines’ and laddish jokes in an attempt to keep young women on campus ‘safe’ from being offended.

“This is deeply patronising to young women who, on the whole, come to university as resilient individuals, able to negotiate the rough edges of the adult world.

“I’m sure the findings will help tackle this stifling culture of infantilisation.”


Elsa Makouezi, a Nottingham grad added: “For too long, universities have encouraged students to dodge the difficult arguments.

“But if students want to get the most out of their university experience, they need to expose themselves to all opinions – even those they most despise.

“Open debate is the best way to develop intellectually and defeat backward ideas. It’s about time UK universities remembered that.”