External Speakers and Events

Paragraphs 7-15 of the Prevent Duty Guidance focus on external speakers and events.

The guidance states that "The RHEB clearly needs to balance its legal duties in terms of both ensuring freedom of speech and academic freedom, and also protecting student and staff welfare." and goes on the say that "Encouragement of terrorism and inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organisation are both criminal offences. RHEBs should not provide a platform for these offences to be committed."

Universities UK published guidance on external speakers in Higher Education Institutions, which states that:

"The open and uncensored debate that is so rightly treasured by universities often involves contributions from external speakers....Although most speakers are uncontroversial, some will express contentious, even inflammatory or offensive, views....Universities have to balance their obligation to secure free speech with their duties to ensure that the law is observed, which includes....maintaining the safety and security of staff, students and visitors."

TUOS procedures, as well as guidance on risk assessing external speakers and events, can be found on the CiCS Room Booking web pages here.

The University of Sheffield is committed to ensuring that free debate and discussion is permitted at all meetings and events.

If staff or students would like to raise concerns about a meeting or event where a speaker was in breach of Freedom of Speech or Prevent guidance, please follow the standard complaints procedures:*
Staff: HR grievance procedure
Students: Complaints procedure

Please be aware that this does not relate to instances where staff or students disagree with an opinion expressed, but rather where legal boundaries have been crossed or the event could be construed as incitement to hatred. This could also include events where open debate and discussion were not allowed or audience members felt unable to challenge ideas due to intimidation.

*Please note that if this relates to a Students' Union event, the complaint will be referred to the Students' Union and considered under the SU Complaints Regulations.