University guide to freedom of expression

The University aims to balance the “four freedoms” of free speech, academic freedom, freedom from hate and the freedom to protest.

This webpage is to provide advice and guidance to help protect these freedoms for the community of Keele University.

The University’s Freedom of Expression Code of Practice sets out the rights, legal obligations and principles that the University and individuals should observe to protect freedom of expression. 

The University’s Speaker & Event Approval Procedure sets out the approach and process for reporting, risk assessing and managing speakers and events in order to maintain the commitments outlined within the Code. 

Why is free speech and academic freedom important?

The University is committed to safeguarding freedom of expression throughout its community and upholding academic freedom of enquiry in its teaching, research and associated activities. 

The University values the rights, responsibilities and dignity of all individuals, accommodating their wide range of views even where they are controversial, unpopular and provocative. This includes ensuring free and open discussion can take place in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, and in compliance with University policies and procedures and statutory duties, referenced within the Code of Practice.

Statement of commitment by the University’s Vice-Chancellor: 

“Freedom of Expression has always been a long-standing value of Keele University. Our founder, Lord Lindsay, established the University to balance essential specialist and expert knowledge with “a wide outlook and general understanding”. 

We therefore remain committed to the belief that the value of balanced academic debate and discussion is at the heart of our contribution to a better society.  

Frequently asked questions

I’m organising an event – what do I need to do?

Read through the Speaker & Event Approval Procedure and follow the steps in the flowchart below.

Flowchart of the Speaker & Event Approval Procedure


How do I request approval for an event / speaker?

After reading the Speaker & Event Approval Procedure, if your event is covered by Annex A, then you will need to submit an approval request form online via MS Forms: Speaker Approval Submission (

Can speakers or events be banned?

The Speaker & Event Approval Procedure sets out the criteria for assessing potential risks of events / speakers.  Under exceptional circumstances where reasonable measures are considered to be insufficient to meet the risks concerned, then the speaker / event may have to be proscribed from taking place.  This situation is considered a measure of last resort.

How do I book a room for an event?

The University supports freedom of expression by allowing use of rooms for events, where availability allows.  Information on how to book rooms can be found on the webpage for Timetabling.

All events must comply with this Code of Practice and Procedure, along with the Room Booking Code of Practice, the booking contract and the Gender Segregation Joint Code of Practice.


The Designated Officer for the Speaker & Event Approval Procedure is the Head of Security.

Enquiries can be addressed to the Designated Officers:


The Freedom of Expression Code of Practice and the Speaker & Event Approval Procedure, along with other University policy documents, can be found within the Policy Zone.