UKCT informs new university guidance

UKCT informs new university guidance

On the 26th of March, 2024, the English universities regulator, the Office for Students, issued new proposals for guidance about free speech and academic freedom at UK universities. UKCT are glad that the proposed guidance reflects our submission to the OfS’s consultation, and our understanding of existing PRC government schemes at UK universities.

According to the OfS:

“The guidance includes examples to illustrate what higher education providers may or will have to do to fulfil these duties. The examples also include scenarios to show where universities, colleges and students’ unions may have breached their free speech duties.

“These include:  

  • “University A accepts international students on visiting scholarships funded by the government of country B. Scholars must accept the principles of the ruling party of country B, and direction from country B’s government via consular staff. Depending on the circumstances, these arrangements may undermine free speech and academic freedom at University A. If so, that university is likely to have to terminate or amend the scholarship agreement.
  • “Institute A in University B is jointly funded by University B and a commercial entity based in a foreign country C. Some staff at Institute A are appointed through a process managed within country C. This process imposes an ideological test as a condition of appointment and employment. Depending on the circumstances, these arrangements may penalise applicants to academic posts for their exercise of academic freedom. They may also have the effect of restricting the free speech and academic freedom of students and staff at University B. In these circumstances, it is likely that University B must terminate or amend these arrangements.”

These scenarios reflect examples of PRC government schemes on campus that were referenced in UKCT’s submission to the OfS consultation that ended in early March. UKCT has now published that submission in full.

The submission was part of our ongoing campaign to raise awareness of potential CCP interference in British universities, the institutionalisation of the CCP’s presence on UK campuses, and the threats thereby posed to members.