Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser
Chief Executive, UKRI
14 November 2023
Dear Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser,
As organisations devoted to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion within the field of Classics in the UK, the Women’s Classical Committee and the Council of University Classics Departments EDI Committee write to express our deep concern at the decision of UKRI to suspend its EDI advisory board as of October 30th 2023, following criticism of two of its members by the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.
This decision is deeply concerning on several grounds: not only the public criticism, and misrepresentation, of two named individuals without regard for due process or the welfare of the academics concerned, but also the wider implications for academic freedom – including the freedom to award research funding and carry out research without political interference, and the right to freedom of expression. Furthermore, the suspension of the entire advisory board based on critique against two of its members is an unjustifiable move and alarmingly calls into question UKRI’s commitment to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion within UK academic research.
We ask you to immediately reinstate the EDI advisory board and reaffirm your commitment to both advancing EDI in UK academia and protecting academic freedom.
Women’s Classical Committee UK