Update on UUK academic freedom working group

A new working group established by Universities UK held its first meeting yesterday.

The working group looks at how universities can best protect academic freedom and freedom of speech on campus under contemporary conditions of geo-political conflict, racial and religious tension and violent extremism.

The working group was established by Universities UK on 6 January 2010 following responses to the arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the United States on Christmas Day for an attempted act of terrorism. Mr Abdulmutallab studied for an undergraduate degree in Engineering and Business Finance at University College London (UCL) between 2005 and 2008.

The group will address the challenge of continuing to guarantee freedom of speech within the law, and how universities can work with relevant organisations, nationally and locally, to protect students, staff and the wider community from illegal conduct.

The group is chaired by Professor Malcolm Grant, Provost of University College London, and includes several Vice-Chancellors, a number of senior staff from universities and representation by the National Union of Students (NUS). One of the key tasks for the Group will be to gather views from universities across the UK on their experiences and practices to provide a basis for enhancing sector information on these important areas, for circulation later this year.


  1. Media enquires about this working group should be directed to Gareth Morgan in the Universities UK press office on 020 7419 5407 or pressunit@universitiesuk.ac.uk
  2. The reasons for establishing this working group were outlined in a media release issued by Universities UK on 6 January 2010. See: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/Newsroom/Media-Releases/Pages/UUKworkinggroup.aspx
  3. Membership of the Group: Chair - Professor Malcolm Grant (Provost of University College London), Professor Mark Cleary (Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Bradford), Roger Gair (University Secretary, University of Leeds), Professor Simon Gaskell (Principal of Queen Mary, University of London), Paul Greatrix (Registrar, University of Nottingham), Dr Jim McGeorge (University Secretary, University of Dundee), Professor Geoff Petts (Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of Westminster), Dr Teeranlall Ramgopal (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Staffordshire University) and Wes Streeting (President, NUS).

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