Ministers must end blight of right-on ideology in our universities, writes DANIEL JOHNSON
This investigation by the respected think tank Civitas demonstrates beyond doubt that Britain’s top universities have finally capitulated to the bullies and ideologues of the ‘radical progressive’ Left.
They are now engaged in the wholesale indoctrination of the younger generation with pernicious notions such as ‘white privilege’, ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘decolonising the curriculum’.
These professors of propaganda have lost sight of what higher education is for. Instead of helping young people to think for themselves, they are teaching them to parrot the jargon of political correctness.
University – once seen (in the words of that great 19th century theologian John Henry Newman) as ‘a seat of wisdom, a light of the world’ – has degenerated into a kind of adult kindergarten, where knowledge is sanitised and students are infantilised.
Daniel Johnson said: ‘Britain’s top universities have finally capitulated to the bullies and ideologues of the ‘radical progressive’ Left’
At the University of Glasgow, for instance, those embarking on an archaeology degree are solemnly warned that they might need to examine bones.
Forensic scientists of a tender disposition are informed that they will be investigating crime scenes.
And they are by no means alone. More than half of the 137 institutions surveyed by Civitas have adopted at least part of the radical progressive agenda.
Shockingly, Cambridge tops the league table, closely followed by Oxford. These two ancient universities have fallen for the woke agenda hook, line and sinker.
Oxbridge scored highest by a range of measures, including unconscious bias training for staff and trigger warnings on ‘offensive material’.
Oxbridge scored highest by a range of measures, including unconscious bias training for staff and trigger warnings on ‘offensive material’
When I read history at Oxford in the 1970s and went on to Cambridge in the 1980s, the idea that the sensitivities of undergraduates needed to be protected by ‘trigger warnings’ would have been laughed out of court.
Yet such mollycoddling has now become so routine that it no longer attracts attention. The Centre For Teaching And Learning at Cambridge has ordered staff to include warnings on all books and plays that include ‘violence, discrimination and illness’. No author is immune to this insidious form of censorship.
Many of the great satirists of the 1960s and 70s, from That Was The Week That Was to Monty Python, began at the Cambridge Footlights. No chance of such irreverent spirits emerging there now – but how mercilessly the likes of Peter Cook and John Cleese would have mocked the dotty dons who now presume to censor Shakespeare.
Harry Potter books, for example, now carry trigger warnings from Chester University because these harmless texts – which most children read at primary school – ‘can lead to difficult conversations about gender, race, sexuality, class and identity’.
Harry Potter books now carry trigger warnings from Chester University
Isn’t part of the point of going to university: To have ‘difficult conversations’? Now we are told that the University of Warwick has even banned the term ‘trigger warning’ in case it upsets students who are scared of guns.
If only the word ‘woke’ – a piece of ‘cultural appropriation’, imported from America, if ever there was one – could go the same way.
It used to be said that scientists were immune from the worst effects of such progressive ideology. If this was ever true, it is so no longer. Imperial College, London’s largest science-based university, now insists that young boffins check their ‘white privilege’.
Increasingly, universities are devoting precious resources to ‘decolonisation’, which often involves ‘cancelling’ their past founders, benefactors or alumni because of some dubious connection to slavery.
Sometimes the academics’ monstrous ingratitude backfires. After the Black Lives Matter protests, Edinburgh renamed its David Hume Tower because of a single footnote in the great Scottish philosopher’s works. As a result, the university lost more than £2million in donations and legacies.
After the Black Lives Matter protests, Edinburgh renamed its David Hume Tower because of a single footnote in the great Scottish philosopher’s works
The hypocrisy of woke academics cries out for exposure. Why, if Cambridge University is so concerned about its historic links to the slave trade, has it accepted £60million of Chinese cash in the past five years? Under Xi Jinping, China has incarcerated more than a million Uighurs in slave labour camps.
The Government has so far watched impotently from the sidelines as this corruption of academic life has unfolded.
Belatedly, ministers are trying to protect the freedom of speech of visiting lecturers, but they have not yet penalised universities for adopting woke policies.
Yet the taxpayer still subsidises universities, both directly and indirectly, through student loans. High time, then, for ministers to use the power of the purse-strings to stop this sinister infiltration of higher education by woke ideology.
Daniel Johnson is editor of thearticle.com
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