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

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