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Strategic Preparation Programme - free speech and academic freedom

Support for institutions in preparing for current challenges relating to free speech, exploring approaches to managing risk and rigorously test thinking and emergent approaches through crisis simulation.

Free speech and academic freedom are core values of higher education and essential to innovative research, effective teaching and learning. Actively promoting and protecting free speech and academic freedom, while also promoting equality and diversity and eliminating harassment, can be a complex and difficult task, made more so by current high levels of public/media scrutiny and political debate.

Responding to sector needs we have developed a strategic preparation programme. It will support institutions in understanding risk and preparing for current challenges relating to free speech by testing your strategy with your colleagues, other institutions and through crisis simulation. 

Want to find out more?

Submit your interest for more information.

Register Interest
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Supporting the sector to navigate free speech and academic freedom

Watch this discussion between Victoria Holbrook, Assistant Director Consulting, Governance and Insight, David Bass, Director of EDI and programme Associate Lucy Parker, talking about what we’re hearing both within England and more broadly as the sector navigates responsibilities to uphold freedom of speech on campus.

You can find out more about our wider work with the sector around freedom of speech here and we will soon be publishing updated guidance on promoting good relations.

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Programme benefits 

Participants on the programme will:

  • Develop a shared understanding of free speech across multiple essential functions; free speech is a multi-faceted and intersectional issue requiring a holistic approach.
  • Support a longer term, strategic institutional approach to the management of freedom of speech, academic freedom and good relations.
  • Evaluate current practice, stakeholders, and culture as well as the identification and mitigation of evolving free speech risks.
  • Create space for participants to explore approaches to managing risk and current issues in a dynamic free speech landscape, including understanding and navigating current and topical challenges in relation to best practice, case law and regulation.
  • Provide participants with the opportunity to share experience and practice with colleagues, experts and sector leaders, and rigorously test thinking and emergent approaches through crisis simulation 

This programme will draw from and contribute to the sector dialogue and good practice supported by Advance HE and UUK.

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Webinar: Strategic Preparation Programme - free speech and academic freedom

Advance HE hosted a webinar to introduce the Strategic Preparation Programme - free speech and academic freedom on 20 February, 10:00-11:30 (UTC) via zoom. 

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Programme Structure

The programme consists of six interactive workshops (two in-person, 4 virtual) covering:

  • The current freedom of speech context
  • Planning and issues management
  • Governance and regulatory compliance
  • Creating a positive culture on campus and online
  • Designing and implementing an institutional plan in response to the changing freedom of speech context
  • Crisis simulation

A team of participants from each institution will comprise a senior sponsor and up to 3 people with responsibility for different aspects of freedom of speech/academic freedom/good relations management. 

For more information, register your interest using the form below and receive an information sheet on the programme. If you would like to discuss other support to help you in this space, please fill in the form below with a brief summary in the questions box.