Bill will chill debate

February 5, 2015

We write as chairs of subject associations representing disciplines across the arts, humanities and social sciences in UK universities. We share the concerns of Anthony Forster, vice-chancellor of the University of Essex, regarding the counter-terrorism and security bill (“Terrorism bill will make universities ‘agents of the state’, warns vice-chancellor”, www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, 28 January). Free and open debate within the law is fundamental both to our disciplines and to democracy. Encouraging such debate is a key way to counter radicalisation; seeking to curtail that freedom can only be counterproductive. We join the increasing number of voices calling publicly for universities to be exempt from the new statutory duty.

Professor Susan Bruce
Chair, University English

Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE
Chair of Council, Academy of Social Sciences

Professor Peter Mandler
President, Royal Historical Society

Professor Matthew Flinders
Chair, Political Studies Association

Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns
Chair, Association of Law Teachers

Professor Robert Stern
President, British Philosophical Association

Howard Wollman
Chair, British Sociological Association

Professor Nicholas Ellison
Chair, Social Policy Association

Professor Jolyon Mitchell
President, Theology and Religious Studies-UK

Dr Graham Harvey
President, British Association for the Study of Religions

Dr Caroline Dyer
Chair, British Association for International and Comparative Education;

Professor Carl Heron
Chair, University Archaeology UK

Professor Greg Myers
Chair, British Association for Applied Linguistics

Dr Sue Currell
Chair, British Association for American Studies

Professor Andrew Beer
Chair, Regional Studies Association

Professor Robert L. Fowler
President, Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies

Christine Riding
Chair, Association of Art Historians

Professor David Hulme
President of the Development Studies Association of the UK and Ireland

Professor Martin R. Halliwell
Chair, English Association

Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe
President, British Society of Criminology

Professor Paul Lynch
Co-chair, Council for Hospitality Management Education

Professor Jenny Steele
President of the Society of Legal Scholars

Professor Jane Duckett
President, The British Association for Chinese Studies

Professor Mairéad Hanrahan
Society for French Studies

Professor Peter Clark
The British Society for the Philosophy of Science.

Dr Graham Smith
Chair, Oral History Society

Professor Rosemary Hunter
Chair, Socio-Legal Studies Association

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