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Universities to be allowed to host extremist speakers

Universities will be allowed to host extremist speakers at on campus events, although the Home Secretary says there are strict guidelines for doing this.

Originally, Theresa May wanted an outright ban on extremist talks at university.

However, it is now possible for university based meetings that give a platform to extremist speakers to go ahead, but within reason.

According to the guidelines laid out, for an extremist speaker to air their views, there must be an opposing speaker present at the same event to argue the anti-extremist opinion.

The new proposals agreed by the government no longer require potential external speakers to provide the university with a full script that can be vetted prior to that speaker taking to the platform.

Although extremist speakers will technically be allowed at universities, the institutions still hold the right to ban meetings should there be any doubt that the risk of “drawing people into terrorism” cannot be “fully mitigated“.

The rules also outline that universities still have a responsibility to keep watch for changes in students that might suggest they have been radicalized.

These new rules come as a compromise to the initial suggestion of banning extremist speakers, after more than 40 academics signed an open letter to say that the ‘prevent’ strategy would infringe upon the free speech of university platforms.

Cecily Sheppard

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