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Students’ Union UCL facilitates thousands of external speakers every year and has policies and procedures in place to help protect freedom of speech within the law. The Union is committed to empower and support our clubs and societies to organise invitations for a variety of speakers that stimulate debate and further non-academic development for the benefit of students. 

External speakers are defined as any non-UCL staff or students invited to speak on campus or at an online event. Our external speaker process aims to create a framework to empower students to create exciting, challenging and varied opportunities for debate, discussion and dialogue with the support and guidance of Union staff. For full details, please have a look at our External Speaker Information and Process.

Requesting an External Speaker 

In order to request an external speaker, fill in the External Speaker Request Form.

You must submit your request through the webform above with a minimum of 10 working days notice. This excludes requests submitted through the Extraordinary External Speaker Request process below.

Please note:

  • You must seek approval for all external speakers through this process, and you may not publicise your event or your speaker until they have been approved.
  • Your requested speaker must agree to follow the guidelines set out in the Briefing for External Speakers before you submit your request.
  • If your submission is not filled in correctly, we may need to reject your form - in this case, you will need to resubmit your webform, and this may result in your event being postponed.
  • Failure to disclose full details about your external speaker may result in the event being cancelled, and referral to the Union for disciplinary action. 

In most cases we aim to process these forms in 5 working days, but it can take longer in certain circumstances including exceptionally busy periods, university holidays or if the speaker requires further scrutiny by the Union and/or UCL.

Extraordinary External Speaker Requests

We want our members to be able to hear about and debate relevant and topical major national and international events, and understand the minimum requirement of 10 working days notice for external speaker requests is not always possible in times of urgent crisis. In the case you are hosting an activity with an external speaker in response to, or to highlight a significant local, national or international event, you can submit an Extraordinary External Speaker Request for us to review.

If your event is responding to a proven local, national or international event or crisis, please:

  1. Download and complete our Extraordinary External Speaker Request Form.
  2. Email your form to the Student Activities team at [email protected], with the subject line 'Extraordinary External Speaker Request Form'. Please mark your email as high importance, and CC both Talia, Head of Intercultural Engagement: [email protected] and the Activities & Engagement Officer: [email protected]

It may take up to 5 working days to review your submission, and you will receive email confirmation of the outcome of your request. If your event meets the above criteria and it is feasible to safely deliver your activity, our staff team will do all we can to facilitate your request. 

Please note you should not advertise your event until your external speaker request has been approved. 

If you have enquiries about this process, you can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected], calling 0207 679 7239, or visiting the Student Activities Reception. 

Please note Students' Union UCL groups or officers seeking to circumvent the external speaker procedure using this process without due reason may be considered for disciplinary action. 

Briefing for External Speakers

The ‘Briefing for External Speakers’ text provided in this document must be circulated to all speakers in advance of submission of the form.

You then need to confirm with your speaker in writing that they agree to comply with Students' Union UCL policy while being hosted at one of our events, and note this on the External Speaker Request Form.

Freedom of Speech Notice

Please see below our Freedom of Speech Notice. It is aimed at increasing awareness of our policy amongst all attendees at your event, including those not classified as speakers.

“Students’ Union UCL is committed to providing a forum that facilitates Freedom of Speech while providing a safe space for our members and the public. We support events that contribute to the non-academic development or students while requesting that all speakers and attendees are respectful of the beliefs and opinions of others, as well as the law that protect individuals and groups from intimidation, discrimination and harassment. By attending a Union event you are agreeing to uphold our policies regarding Freedom of Speech. Any breach of the Union Policies and procedures may result in your event and speech being curtailed and referred as appropriate for further action to be taken.”

With that in mind, you must copy and paste this rider on to the bottom of emails/messages you send out inviting people to your event, for example on your club or society mailing list, as well as the event pages you set up on the internet, for example on Facebook. It is essential that this is circulated because due to the nature of some events, even those that are not classified as speakers will be voicing their opinions and contributing to discussions.

If you have any questions about the external speaker request process please contact Talia, Head of Intercultural Engagement, on [email protected]

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