University – May 2022
The UK elections dominated the earlier part of May with the ruling Conservative Party losing 491 councillors while the main opposition Labour gained 115. Compared to many elections it was hardly a policy-driven debate, so much focus was on Ukraine where there is broad agreement across most political parties in most democracies. It was interesting however to see what the public perception of “Partygate” really is and it will be interesting to see what impact Nationalist party Sinn Féin, winning more seats than any other party in Northern Ireland, will have on theUK’s relationship with the EU going forward.
Of more direct relevance to Higher Education, the State Opening of Parliament took place on 10 May. We heard the Queen’s Speech setting out legislation for the coming (likely 12-month) parliamentary session. In terms of Universities, the expectation is that we’ll see Parliament
‘carrying over’ the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, a bill which has wide-spread support across Universities. A lot comes down to what level of freedom Johnson and Zahawi think is consistent with the wider party view, whilst also ensuring that changes do not undermine the ability of Universities to prevent harassment or interfere with counterterrorism legislation.