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Arno Mikkor
UK News

Commit to free speech, Government tells universities

Jo Johnson, the universities minister, outlined his plans for the new regulator, the Office for Students and said young people and students need to "accept the legitimacy of healthy vigorous debate".

In this new move, the practice of preventing someone holding views regarded as unacceptable or offensive from contributing to a public debate or meeting, known as "no-platforming", will end.

Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) Director, Revd Richard Cunningham gave a statement to Premier:

"I welcome Jo Johnson's announcement that the Office for Students (OfS) is to be given powers to enforce freedom of speech in our universities. For students to truly flourish and form a robust world view, they need to be in a stimulating environment in which they can encounter new and difficult views.

"Prospective employers do not want a future workforce of graduates who seem thin skinned, humourless and brittle, but rather one that is composed of well-rounded people who have learned to challenge, reject or embrace some of the new and difficult ideas they encountered as students.

"The 160+ university Christian Unions have - despite all this - managed to attract tens of thousands of students in the past few months come to one of their mission events. CUs are essentially a safe, creative and kind space in which all students can consider a radical and challenging message."

When speaking to Premier during our News Hour programme, the head of public policy for campaign group Christian Concern, Tim Dieppe encouraged people to have healthy arguments:

"We shouldn't be afraid of ideas we disagree with.

"The truth will win out, the best arguments will win and we should hear them and listen to them, work out what's wrong with them, if there is something wrong and refute them as they need to be refuted and that's the way a free society works."

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