More than a quarter of students ‘self-censor’ due to fear that their views will clash with the values of their university.
A recent survey undertaken by Survation for legal advocacy group, ADF International, has found that 27% of university students have ‘hidden’ their opinions that they believe may be at odds with those of their university.
The same survey found that 44% of students believe that their lecturers would treat them differently if they made their views known, and that 38% believe that their future careers might be adversely affected if they openly expressed their true opinions.
‘Of all places, university is where students should be free to debate and explore ideas – especially those with which they disagree” said Ryan Christopher, Director of ADF International UK
‘Today’s censorship on campus can easily become ‘cancel culture’ in the public square.’
The survey, which received responses from 1,028 current university students and recent graduates across the country, showed that 40% of students have witnessed an increase in the cancellation of events due to the views held by the speaker at their university.
Earlier this year, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was ‘no-platformed’ shortly before her speech at the University of Oxford due to her role in the Windrush scandal.
Pro-life students censored
The results of this survey confirm what pro-life students have been experiencing for a number of years. In what appears to have become a pattern at universities across the UK, many pro-life groups have been hindered in their ability to speak freely and enjoy the same benefits as other student societies.
In the last three years, student representative bodies at Aberdeen University, Glasgow University, Nottingham University and Strathclyde University have all tried to prevent student pro-life groups from being affiliated with their university and benefiting from the same privileges available to any other student group. In each of these cases, the student unions had to reverse their decision after the groups threatened legal proceedings against them.
In 2019, in the first case of its kind, a midwifery student at Nottingham University was suspended and faced possible expulsion from her course after a lecturer raised concerns about her role in the University’s pro-life group. Only after beginning legal action was the University’s decision overturned.
Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “The results of this survey are hardly surprising. We have witnessed serious censorship directed at pro-life students already. In many cases they are simply refused affiliation with their university on purely ideological grounds, and in one case a student was almost removed from her course for believing that the lives of unborn children, as well as their mothers, are worthy of protection.”
“Student pro-lifers have seen where censorship leads. First students fear clashing with their university, then they fear for their jobs, then, as we have seen, some universities even try to deny entry to a student’s chosen profession because they are pro-life. The concerns that many students have about censorship and being treated differently by universities are real; pro-life students have been experiencing this for years.
“We are calling on universities around the country to take urgent action to ensure that they are creating an environment where students are not marginalised for taking a pro-life position on life issues.”