Higher education institutions are open environments where academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental to their functioning; where debate, challenge and dissent are not only permitted but expected, and where controversial and offensive ideas are likely to be advanced. Intellectual freedom is fundamental to their mission, their teaching and their research.
But all freedoms have limits imposed by law, in order to protect the rights and freedoms of others. The rules are neither simple nor always easy to apply; and they continue to change. Institutions, when making decisions around external speakers should have clear policies and procedures in place. There are a range of resources to assist institutions in doing this.
UUK guidance (2013): External speakers in higher education institutions
UUK guidance (2011): Freedom of speech on campus: rights and responsibilities for UK universities
NUS guidance: Managing the risks associated with external speakers
Charities Commission toolkit: chapter five: protecting charities from abuse for extremist purposes and managing the risks at events and in activities
Equality and Human Rights Commission (2014) Gender segregation at events and meetings: guidance for universities and students' unions