Free Speech University Rankings 2017: the best universities

Spiked’s 2017 Free Speech University Rankings reveal which UK universities have the best record on free speech

February 10 2017
Free speech, censor, censorship

The online magazine Spiked has released its 2017 Free Speech University Rankings, an analysis of the state of free speech on UK university campuses.

Essentially, it’s a guide to what universities do or do not allow on their campuses when it comes to, say, controversial speakers, newspapers, adverts, student societies, fancy dress; and the policies that it has in place relating to equality and dignity, gender identity, “safe spaces” and “no platforming” – the banning of individuals or groups thought to hold far-Right or extremist views.

Ranking institutions as either red, amber, or green in terms of how restrictive they are, the survey of 115 universities found that 108 – when taking university administration and students’ unions as a whole – censor or chill free speech to some degree. Some 73 were assessed as red, 35 were amber, and only seven were green, meaning that as far as Spiked was aware, they placed no restrictions on free speech and expression – other than where it was unlawful.

The report said that there was a ban on dressing up as Caitlyn Jenner at Newcastle University, a restriction on “blasphemy” at London South Bank University, and a policy at the University of Surrey insisting that its mascot, Steve the Stag, isn’t depicted by students “drinking, smoking or ‘involved in lewd acts’”.

There were only three institutions in the UK with no instances of censorship in 2017: the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the University of Buckingham and the University of the West of Scotland.


The best universities for free speech 2017 according to Spiked

Below, we list all the universities awarded either green or amber awards in the Free Speech University Rankings.

Rating University
Green University of Buckingham
Green Glasgow Caledonian University
Green University of Hertfordshire
Green Loughborough University
Green Robert Gordon University
Green University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Green University of the West of Scotland
Amber University of Aberdeen
Amber Anglia Ruskin University
Amber Bangor University
Amber University of Bolton
Amber University of Brighton
Amber University of Cambridge
Amber University of Canterbury
Amber University of Chester
Amber De Montfort University
Amber Edinburgh Napier University
Amber University of Exeter
Amber University of Glasgow
Amber Imperial College London
Amber Keele University
Amber University of Kent
Amber Leeds Trinity University
Amber University of Liverpool
Amber London Metropolitan University
Amber Northumbria University
Amber Nottingham Trent University
Amber Oxford Brookes University
Amber Queen’s University Belfast
Amber Soas, University of London
Amber Southampton Solent University
Amber University of South Wales
Amber University of St Andrews
Amber University of Sunderland
Amber Teesside University
Amber University of Central Lancashire
Amber Ulster University
Amber University of West London
Amber University of Winchester
Amber University of Worcester
Amber University of York

Access the results in full

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