UK Academics Irked by Letter Seeking Brexit Lecture Details - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

UK Academics Irked by Letter Seeking Brexit Lecture Details

Email


by Jill Lawless, Associated Press


LONDON — British academics accused a lawmaker from the governing Conservative Party on Tuesday of infringing on intellectual freedom by asking universities to provide information on professors who teach about Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The letter from euroskeptic legislator Chris Heaton-Harris requested the names of professors “who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit.” Heaton-Harris also requested copies of syllabuses and links to online lectures.

University of Worcester Vice Chancellor David Green said he “felt a chill run down my spine” when he read the letter.

It “appears so innocent, but is really so, so dangerous,” Green said. “Here is the first step to the thought police, the political censor and Newspeak.”

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of higher education umbrella group Universities U.K., described the request as “an alarming attempt to censor or challenge academic freedom.”

Heaton-Harris is a Conservative whip, one of the lawmakers tasked with maintaining party discipline in Parliament, and a strong supporter of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Some pro-Brexit politicians have accused pro-EU figures in the media and academia of trying to undermine Britain’s successful exit from the bloc.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office stressed that Heaton-Harris did not write the letter at the government’s behest.

“Free speech is one of the foundations on which our universities are built,” May’s office said.

It was not immediately clear why Heaton-Harris was seeking the information or how many universities received the letter. His office referred questions to the Conservative Party, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  Chancellor Writes in Support of UNC Center for Civil Rights

“To be absolutely clear, I believe in free speech in our universities and in having an open and vigorous debate on Brexit,” the lawmaker tweeted.

RELATED ARTICLES >>
New Questions in NSSE Survey Spark Important Conversations A topical module around inclusiveness and engagement with cultural diversity debuted in this year’s NSSE survey, and the results prompted discussions around teaching practices. Every year since 2000, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSS...
Professor Apologizes for Fiery Response to Muslim Student CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati music teacher has apologized for his fiery online responses to a Muslim student who was critical of Donald Trump’s presidency and talked about celebrating freedom and diversity. College-Conservatory of Music...
Colleges Wrestle with Issue of Using Students’ Fees for Controversial Speakers Katherine Kerwin didn’t like to see a portion of the student fees she pays being spent to bring conservative speaker Ben Shapiro to the University of Wisconsin. Kerwin didn’t agree with Shapiro’s criticism of what he said were attempts to chill fr...
Pennsylvania Education Leader Going Extra Mile for Diversity  Long bike rides are an annual tradition for Dr. John Sygielski, who spent several weeks biking from New Orleans to Nashville this summer, traveling along the Natchez Trace Parkway and passing through Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Along the w...
Semantic Tags: