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

Rankings for Students
Student life
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John Elmes

Junior reporter
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.

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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.

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