Sensitive or censor 2

December 24, 2004

Suppose the ethics committee at Durham University forbids me to teach a certain subject, but I decide to exercise my academic freedom (enshrined in law) and teach it anyway. Will I be disciplined? Sacked? If I am invited to Durham as a guest speaker, must my topic be approved in advance by the ethics committee?

However Durham seeks to dress this up, it is nothing less than censorship. Is it too much to hope that Universities UK will issue a public condemnation of the abhorrent initiative Durham has taken, and that the Quality Assurance Agency will warn the university that it risks a judgement of "no confidence" in respect of the management of the quality of its academic programmes unless the ethics committee is abolished?

Geoffrey Alderman
Professor emeritus
Middlesex University

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