External Speakers Policy

1. Principles

1.1. The purpose of this document is to define the University’s policy on external speakers. In setting out the principles of this policy, due regard should also be given to the University’s Freedom of Speech Policy.

1.2. Under the Education Act (1986), the Governing Council of the University is required to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for the University’s members, employees and students, and for visiting speakers.

1.3. Academic staff have freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing employment, status or privileges.

1.4. External speakers should be offered the same freedom of expression as members of the University community (which includes staff, students and members of the Students’ Union and Governing Council), provided that this does not impede the University in exercising its responsibilities.

1.5. Under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 the Governing Council of the University is required to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

1.6. The University’s duty, as outlined in this policy and the Freedom of Speech Policy, should not conflict with the freedom of expression of external speakers. Tolerance and respect for opposing viewpoints are entirely compatible with the fostering of good relationships, and are integral aspects of University culture.

2. The scope of this policy

2.1. The term ‘external speaker’ refers to any individual or group that is not a member of the University who is invited to participate in a University lectures, webinars, events or other form of University business. This includes meetings, events or business (‘Events’) that are undertaken on or off University premises, through publication or on the Internet. A University or SU event with live online speakers (from either the UK or outside of the UK) includes events live-streamed directly to students/staff/public in private or multiple settings and the use of pre-recorded material. This policy does not apply to specialists contributing to the curriculum on professional and other programmes such as teacher training, nursing and policing.

2.2. In circumstances where an external speaker is present, responsibility for their conduct shall lie with the Event organiser. In circumstances where this policy or any other University policy is breached, the University reserves the right to take appropriate action.

2.3. Where an individual feels that this policy has been breached, a complaint may be lodged through the Complaints Procedure.

2.4. In instances where the actions of an external speaker, in respect of this University policy or any other, may constitute a breach of criminal law, the University will assist the prosecuting authorities as appropriate in line with its Data Security Policy.

3. Authorisation Procedure

3.1. When considering inviting an external speaker to participate in a University Event, the organiser should consider whether the speaker’s presence represents a potential risk to the University or its ability to exercise its duties. When considering risk, the organiser should think about Reputational Damage, Compliance & Regulation, Financial Sustainability and People and Culture.

3.2. Where the organiser is a member of staff, they shall exercise judgement in determining the suitability of a potential external speaker with respect to the principles outlined in this policy, the Freedom of Speech policy, and any other relevant University policies. In line with Paragraph 2.2 of this policy, responsibility for the conduct of the external speaker shall lie with the organiser. If the member of staff organizing the Event or any other party has a concern about the suitability of a potential external speaker, a referral shall be made in line with Paragraph 4. Until a decision is made on the referral the event cannot be publicized.

3.3. Where the organiser is a student wishing to invite an External Speaker into the University (as a non UDSU event), then in all cases the External Speaker request form (appendix A) should be completed and submitted to the University Registrar at least 20 working days prior to the proposed event. The Registrar shall then process this request as described in section 4 of this policy.

4. Referrals

4.1. If the member of staff organizing the Event or any other party has a concern about the suitability of a potential external speaker, an External Speakers Request Form (appendix A) shall be completed and submitted to the University Registrar along with a fully completed risk assessment where the relevant External Speaker questions have been answered, at least 20 working days before the date of the proposed event. The University Registrar shall consider the suitability of the proposed external speaker with respect to the principles outlined in this policy and the Freedom of Speech policy.

i. On receipt of a request form the University Registrar will either approve the request within five working days or if there is a concern about the suitability of the proposed external speaker, then the reason will be made clear to the organiser.

ii. If the organiser can provide reassurances then the request will be approved, if not the Registrar shall not approve the speaker for the Event. In the latter case the organiser may refer the matter as outlined in section 4.2.

4.2. If the organiser is dissatisfied with the decision of the University Registrar, they shall have the right to appeal to a Governing Council panel. An appeal should be made in writing and submitted within ten working days of the date of the University Registrar’s decision letter or email.

4.3. The Governing Council panel shall consider the matter and respond to the organiser in writing within a target of 10 working days.

4.4. The decision of the Governing Council panel is final.

5. Record keeping

5.1 Records of proposed external speakers which are referred to the University Registrar, and any consideration of their suitability, will be stored securely and confidentially for five years, in line with the University’s Data Security Policy.

6. Related policies and guidance

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Author(s): OM/NE

Area: Executive

Supporting Document: N/A

Date of Equality Analysis: July 2016

Last approval date by GC: March 2021

Implementation date: April 2021

Next review date: March 2022