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Academics say research is being hindered by universities fear of social media backlash


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Leading academics in the UK say they have been pushed out of the country to pursue their research abroad because British universities fear online backlash from activists.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, academics claim that university ethics committees are 'drifting into moral vanity' by putting a stop to research in areas deemed 'politically incorrect.' 

Their comments come at a time of widespread concern for free speech on campuses. This week minister Jo Johnson announced that the Office of Students will be given the power to fine universities that fail to uphold free speech as of April next year. 

Leading gender specialist James Caspian disclosed plans to take Bath Spa University to judicial review over its decision to reject his research on transgenderism.

Bath Spa University previously accepted the proposal analysing why growing numbers of transgender people are reversing their transition process.

However, the university reversed their decision after Mr Caspian asked to look for study participants in online forums.

The university informed him that this approach could provoke 'unnecessary offence' and 'attacks' on social media platforms.

Bath Spa has declined his request for an internal review, but have since offered to refund a third of Mr Caspian’s fees.

Mr Caspian has since set up a crowdfunding campaign to fight the case, and has received over £6,000 in donations.

He has also sent a letter to universities minister Jo Johnson, writing that the “suppression of research on spurious grounds” is a growing issue in the UK.

“I have already heard of academics leaving the UK for countries where they felt they would be more welcomed to carry out their research,” the letter continues.

“I believe that it should be made clear that any infringement of our academic freedom should not be allowed. I would ask you to consider the ramifications should academics continue to be censored in this way.”

A spokesman from Bath Spa University stated that they would “not be commenting further at this stage."

Leading image courtesy of James Caspian

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