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Gavin Williamson Demands Hard University Reforms Guaranteeing Free Speech In Return For Bailout Deals

The Secretary of State for Education has taken a hard line on universities which are seeking bailouts from the government.

Gavin Williamson issued a final warning to Universities in February that they would have to reform and demonstrate commitments to free speech or face legislative action from the government stating in The Times that “If universities don’t take action, the government will.”

Since the Coronavirus crisis, many of these universities have faced serious funding difficulties. The Institute for Financial Studies estimates that 13 Universities which represent 5% of higher education face collapse without government assistance.

The education minister has hit back hard against the pleas for a bailout stating that any university receiving taxpayer money must “cut back administrative burden and focus their resources on the front line”. 

They must also scrap non-performing courses with high dropout rates and poor post-graduate work prospects. 

Crucially, any universities demanding bailouts must also demonstrate their commitments to free speech upon campuses.

All universities whether they have been bailed out or not also face the prospect of incoming legislative action by the government this year to crack down on “joke degrees” and the increasingly authoritarian atmosphere which leftist activists have created upon campuses.

An independent Higher Education Restructuring Board is to be established to assist Williamson in assessing which universities should be eligible for receiving bailouts in the form of repayable loans. 

The issue of free speech at UK universities has become a critical issue and the prevalence of authoritarian left-wing thinking and left-wing activists on campuses have led to many  speakers and politicians being “no platformed”. 

Amber Rudd was no-platformed by the UN Women Oxford society and the university was forced to de-register and ban the society for breaching Oxford’s own free speech guidelines.

More recently, Jordan Peterson had his fellowship rescinded and had a talk cancelled at Cambridge University after academics and students protested against a scheduled talk by Jordan Peterson at Cambridge Union.