Universities pursuing ‘divisive agenda’ by ‘cancelling national heroes’, Gavin Williamson claims

Gavin Williamson has accused some United kingdom universities of pursuing a “divisive agenda” as a result of actions this kind of as “cancelling countrywide heroes” and “debating statues”.

The training secretary reported these moves only “widen divisions” in a speech on Thursday.

“Although our universities are in the main excellent communities, we would all acknowledge, like any place in modern society, they are not fantastic,” he stated.

“Whether it is antisemitic incidents, the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual assault, or more and more casualised workforce or insufficient instructing provision for disabled college students, there are authentic injustices that we really should try to get suitable.”

But he added: “Too frequently, some universities appear to be additional interested in pursuing a divisive agenda.”

Mr Williamson reported this associated “cancelling nationwide heroes, debating about statues, anonymous reporting strategies for so-named micoaggressions and politicising their curricula”.

“Vice-chancellors who make it possible for these initiatives to get place in their title should recognize they do very little but undermine community self-assurance, widen divisions and injury the sector,” he said.

The instruction secretary has been a vocal supporter of free speech on campus, amid campaigns and conversations more than decolonising curriculums, eliminating controverisal statues and de-platforming speakers around sights.

Earlier this 12 months, he backed a Oxford College’s decision not to remove a statue of white supremacist Cecil Rhodes, which college students have been campaigning for decades to have taken down.

Mr Williamson also condemned college students in a further Oxford school who experienced taken down a photo of the Queen, which they claimed was an emblem of “recent colonial history”.

The Nationwide Union for Students informed The Unbiased the instruction secretary’s involvement in the issue “posed questions” in excess of the government’s determination to no cost speech.

The education secretary has previously mentioned he was “deeply worried” about the “chilling outcome on campuses of unacceptable silencing and censoring”.

The authorities has put ahead a bill that would create new needs for universities and university student unions in excess of liberty of speech, with a regulator capable to problem fines for any breaches.

But unions have accused the governing administration of “exaggerating” the danger to force as a result of these rules and said there was “no evidence” of a independence of speech crisis at universities.