The Ian Mactaggart Programme

Open Debate | Independent Thinking | Free Expression

The Ian Mactaggart Programme has been established to foster a culture of open debate, independent thinking and free expression among young people in the UK, especially students. It offers funding to individuals, societies and other groups that wish to provide opportunities for debate, open discussion and intellectual exploration among 16-30 year-olds. If you would like to apply, contact us today.

If you’re promoting free expression on your campus, we want to help you. This programme offers financial support to students and student societies, helping them to flourish in a climate which can place unreasonable obstacles in the way of open debate. Our awards go to groups across the political spectrum who share a belief in the importance of free speech, and tolerance for different points of view.

Successful applicants will be able to access expert support from the Free Speech Union case team in navigating any free speech-related problems they encounter.

The Programme will also provide opportunities for recipients to develop a free speech network so they can share ideas, compare notes and offer each other moral support.

The Ian Mactaggart Programme’s Core Values

1) Freedom of speech, of conscience, and of intellectual enquiry, are the essential pillars of a free society – the foundational freedoms on which all others depend.

2) The Programme takes no position on the validity of others’ opinions, political or otherwise, whether expressed in speech, writing, performance, or in another form, provided they fall within the law.

3) Recipients of funds agree not to restrict others’ freedom of speech and should engage in discussions and disagreements in good faith.

Grant Recipient Events Gallery

What can you apply for?

Society Awards

Student societies can apply for funding of up to £1,500 per term for any purpose connected with the promotion of free speech. Funds might be used to facilitate speaker events, cover speaker travel costs, produce promotional material, host debating competitions, or for any other relevant purpose. Applications are welcome from long-standing and new societies, whether affiliated to Student Unions or independent of them.

Individual Awards

Students at any stage of their university or college career can apply for funding to cover free-speech related activities – for example, conference organisation, journalism and other forms of content production, art exhibitions, performances, cultural events or talks that promote free speech. We do not wish to be prescriptive and will consider any application that aligns with, and takes forward, the Programme’s core values. Typical awards would be in the range of £100 to £250. We will consider larger grants for exceptional projects.

Funding for Academics

We welcome applications from academics and others involved in educational activities to fund seminars, lectures, discussions or conferences for students, exploring themes related to the fund’s core values.

How to Apply

Grant applications are accepted year-round.

The Programme aims to be open to as many candidates as possible, funding a heterogeneous range of activities.

To achieve this, we cannot fund all requests, even where a project is closely aligned with the Programme’s aims. However, unsuccessful applicants are welcome to re-apply at a later date.

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