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08 June 2023

King's President & Principal to Chair Free Speech and Academic Freedom Advisory Group

Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal of King’s College London will Chair Universities UK’s (UUK) Free Speech and Academic Freedom Advisory Group.

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Universities UK (UUK) is re-establishing the Advisory Group to support the Office for Students’ (OfS) work on freedom of speech, following the OfS’ recent appointment of the new Free Speech Director, Professor Arif Ahmed MBE, and ahead of the Freedom of Speech Bill being implemented. The group will be predominantly comprised of Vice-Chancellors from across UUK’s membership, as well as some relevant other roles, such as University Registrars and Secretaries.

The primary role of the Advisory Group will be to shape the implementation of the Freedom of Speech Act and provide advice and recommendations to the UUK Board, which will include shaping UUK’s engagement with the OfS in relation to free speech and academic freedom.

Alongside responding to the immediate policy environment, the Advisory Group will also play an important role in providing guidance on the approach UUK should be taking to the wider free speech and academic freedom debate, including how the sector should respond over the medium-to-long-term and where UUK can further support members to meet their new duties.

Academic freedom and freedom of speech are the values on which our universities are founded, and I am delighted to be chairing this important advisory group to bring together voices across the sector to discuss this topic.

President & Principal of King’s College London, Professor Shitij Kapur

Professor Kapur further added, "Our Policy Institute has been sharing research into public and student perspectives on freedom of speech for several years, and I look forward to continuing to use this valuable insight, alongside the expertise of higher education colleagues, to help inform our work in this area."

The Policy Institute at King’s works to solve society’s challenges with evidence and expertise, and regularly publishes leading research and insight into public attitudes and perceptions, including the UK in the World Values Survey. Read more about the Policy Institute’s work on freedom of speech in the latest report here.

King’s has also launched a Presidential Series called 'Academic Freedom: charting a course'. Intended as an inclusive platform, it brings together staff, students, and public leaders, from the UK and around the world, to understand the complex reality of academic freedom on campuses, within the context of wider socio-political, regulatory, and intellectual debates. The hope for the series is to build towards an understanding of academic freedom that is better adapted to universities today and contemporary society. Read more about the series here.

In this story

Shitij Kapur

Vice-Chancellor & President of King's College London