Radical change

March 9, 2017

The report on the “over-representation” of left-liberal views in UK academia written by Noah Carl of Nuffield College, Oxford, which was based on a Times Higher Education survey from April 2015, was reported widely over the past week (“Adam Smith Institute ‘lurch to the left’ report: flimsy figures”, 2 March, www.timeshighereducation.com). It declared that 46 per cent of UK academics intended to vote for Labour in the 2015 general election, compared with only 11 per cent for the Conservatives, and also that the number of Conservative academics may have declined by as much as 25 percentage points in the past 50 years.

The idea that today’s academics are more radical than those of the 1960s is, of course, laughable to anyone who has experienced both eras, but that isn’t the real question here.

Fifty years ago, academics had tenure, lecturers’ salaries were linked to the same Civil Service grade as MPs, universities themselves paid for and actively encouraged blue-sky research, and class sizes were a tenth of the size they are today. The real question is what will be left of our university system in 50 years, now that the foundations that our universities were built upon have been so comprehensively destroyed.

Colin Hendrie
University of Leeds

Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham