York VC tells MP where to shove his request for all Brexit teaching material

He emailed everyone letting him know he wasn’t taking any bullshit

York's Vice Chancellor, Professor Koen Lamberts said in an email today that York will be refusing to provide information on any Brexit teaching material.

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris had sent requests to all university vice-chancellors request to have the names of academics teaching European affairs, and the syllabus and online content relating to Brexit.

Heaton-Harris is a Brexiteer who claims the information is needed for a book. He emailed every vice-chancellor in the country. News of this broke when photos of his letters were posted on Twitter. Mr Heaton-Harris has been strongly criticised for his emails and he has been accused of "McCarthyite" behaviour.

Professor Lamberts rebuked this request in his email, reassuring students he would resist any attempt to undermine academic freedom.

The email reads in full:

Dear students,

As some of you may be aware from recent media reports, a member of Parliament, Chris Heaton-Harris, has written to every vice chancellor in England, asking for the names of academic colleagues who are engaged in teaching ‘European affairs’, with particular reference to Brexit. He also asked to see syllabus materials and online content. The University of York received his letter last week.

Although the MP does not explain the motivation for his request, I am deeply concerned that it may be part of an attempt to question, challenge or undermine academic freedom in universities. I want to assure you all that we will not provide the information requested by Mr Heaton-Harris. Instead, I will write to him to explain the importance of academic autonomy and independent critical enquiry in a democratic society, and our duty, enshrined in law, to resist in the strongest way possible any attempts to undermine academic freedom.

With best wishes,

Professor Koen Lamberts

Vice Chancellor

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