David Ruebain on UUK podcast on freedom of speech
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Friday, 17 March 2023
Our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion, Professor David Ruebain has taken part in The future of higher education today podcast produced by Universities UK (UUK), on the topic of freedom of speech and academic freedom. The podcast brings people together to talk about the biggest issues facing universities.
Professor Ruebain, who holds executive level responsibility for freedom of speech at the University, joined the podcast to talk about the work that Sussex has been doing to help ensure that everyone is feel free and able to express themselves within the law, irrespective of their backgrounds or beliefs.
David is joined on the podcast by Ali Chambers, Chief Executive of Exeter’s Student Guild, who talks about the issues affecting students’ unions - often at the coalface of this debate. The second half of the podcast deals with the current legal background to freedom of speech and academic freedom, and the new Higher Education and Freedom of Speech Bill. This part is covered by Smita Jamda, partner and education lead at the law firm Shakespeare Martineau.
The host of the podcast, Harry Anderson, opens by explaining how vital academic freedom and free speech are to a flourishing university environment, but how difficult it is for universities to balance protecting them with keeping staff and students safe from hate speech and harassment as well promoting equality between different groups.
David and Ali discussed the importance of universities and students’ unions working together when it comes to issues related to free speech. Agreeing with Ali, David said: “We need to bring people together to create spaces where challenging and difficult subjects and issues can be thought about and talked about, and this has to be done with the whole of the community.
“To my mind the conversation is as important as the teaching. Understanding our different communities, when trying to provide forums for different thoughts and views to be expressed, is very important.”
The 30-minute podcast is now available at the UUK website and other channels.
A full transcript is also available.
See more information about our approach to freedom of speech and academic freedom.