One in 10 students think Tories should be barred from campus

Nine in ten students have a lot of questions to answer

One in 10 students think members of the Conservative Party should be banned from coming to universities to give talks.

According to a new report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), 11 per cent of the 1,000 respondents thought campus should be a Tory-free zone.

Director of HEPI and author of the report Nick Hillman said his findings show that when it comes to free speech, students want “greater restrictions to be imposed than have tended to be normal in the past”.

The report also found that 26 per cent of students wanted the English Defence League banned from campus, while 24 per cent don’t think UKIP should be given a platform to speak to students.

61 per cent of students said that “when in doubt”, unis “should ensure all students are protected from discrimination rather than allow unlimited free speech”.

When the last version of this survey was conducted back in 2016, just 37 per cent of respondents held this belief.

Nick Hillman said a lot has changed since then with Covid, strikes and the cost of living crisis potentially affecting the outlooks of today’s students.

“We have discovered a very clear pattern,” he said. “In 2016, we found considerable ambivalence and confusion about free speech issues. Now, it is clear most students want greater restrictions to be imposed than have tended to be normal in the past.

“This may be primarily for reasons of compassion, with the objective of protecting other students, but it could also reflect a lack of resilience among a cohort that has faced unprecedented challenges.”

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill is currently passing through the House of Lords, seeking to impose tighter restrictions on how unis and student unions’ police free speech on campus.

Commenting on the bill, a spokesperson for the National Union of Students said: “At a time when students are facing untold hardship the government would be much better advised to focus on providing the practical support that students desperately need, through maintenance grants, rent caps and cost of living payments, rather than attacking the very institutions that have stepped up to fill the gaps in support being offered.”

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