A new report by a U.K. magazine claims to have found that 94 percent of colleges in the region censor student speech — a figure that has reportedly been rising over the past three years, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The analysis, published by Spiked, a U.K. magazine that opposes censorship, was based on research of policies at 115 colleges. And the resulting censorship rankings, titled, “The Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR),” are based on red, amber and green labels.
Here’s how it works: If a school is labeled red that means it has reportedly actively censored speech or expression; amber means free speech has been chilled through too much regulation and green means no restrictions have been found.
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According to FIRE, the most recent Spiked report found that nearly 64 percent of the U.K. schools included in the report were in the red, up 20 percent since the first report produced back in 2015. With that change comes another: The proportion of green schools has decreased. It’s a collective scenario that Spiked said “paints a grim picture.”
“Our survey, ranking 115 U.K. universities using our traffic-light system, shows that 63.5 per cent of universities now actively censor speech, and 30.5 per cent stifle speech through excessive regulation,” reads a description of the results. “This marks a steady rise in censorship over the past three years. Now only six per cent of UK universities are truly free, open places.”
The Free Speech University Rankings involve surveying these universities to assess campus policies as well as actions that are taken by student unions, then ranking those findings. Each college ended up with a profile that recaps the results. For example, the profile assembled for The University of Bath and the University of Bath Students’ Union accuses the school of “collectively (creating) an environment that is hostile to free speech.”
The university was given a red ranking in the 2017 results due to a “transphobic propaganda” ban,” while the student union was given an amber ranking over purported crackdowns on controversial speakers as well as a comedy show that would have featured the Prophet Muhammad. Here’s a snapshot of what the profile looks like:
See all of the rankings for yourself here.
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