Cape Town - The University of Cape Town has defended its protection of freedom of artistic expression, after the David Goldblatt Collection chose to move its collection to Yale University in the US.

Goldblatt recently told UCT management that he wants to move his collection from the university after eight years, saying the university could no longer protect freedom of expression, artistic freedom and the rights of artists on the campus, a UCT statement said last week.

The university said it understood Goldblatt's decision.

"The Goldblatt Collection is a South African heritage treasure, it includes 18 archival boxes of photographic prints, transparencies, negatives and digital items representing his oeuvre, including portraiture and his work on various assignments.

"We regret that Mr Goldblatt could not be persuaded out of his view that freedom of expression, artistic freedom and rights of artists were no longer protected at UCT."

UCT will continue to promote, protect, attract and collect artistic collections and work with artists into the future, it said.

"The institution, the UCT libraries, and the faculties working in this field are committed to freedom of expression, artistic freedom and the rights of artists.

"UCT commits itself to intellectual honesty, rigour in debate, openness to alternative ideas and respect for other views, ways of being, beliefs and opinions as stipulated in the university’s statement of values.

"We promote and protect academic freedom and freedom of expression, including the creation of spaces for contestation of ideas."

The university said its own values, guided by the Library and Information Association of South Africa, will always stand for the free flow of information, the support of intellectual freedom and not exercising censorship.