Political bias in British schools & universities

Here, from a leftwing writer, is a sensible and honest appraisal of what is happening to British education:

“…Views that fall outside the accepted liberal-left spectrum get short shrift in my staffroom. I have watched teachers react incredulously – almost to the point of tears – when colleagues have tried floating a reasonable case for Brexit. This would be harmless enough if it did not put in doubt their ability empathise with views opposed to their own…”

“…In theory students are introduced to a range of ideologies through studying government and politics. But I have only heard Labour politicians being criticised by fellow teachers for being too rightwing. We have had assemblies celebrating feminists and the campaign for a living wage, which are excellent and informative, but with no attention given to right-of-centre subjects (none that weren’t heavily critical, anyway).
The latter were balanced presentations insofar as they covered arguments on both sides, although dissenting views were always delivered under an arched eyebrow. Perhaps this is unavoidable. After all, I do not think it is unreasonable for teachers to share their political views, provided they make caveats about these being personal views. In its guidance to schools, Ted Huddleston of the Citizenship Foundation warned that “it does young people no favours to shield them from views they are likely to encounter in society”…”

"…It often seems like few other authority figures in my students’ lives are preparing them for life outside their Labour bubble, where, for example, austerity is not automatically a term of abuse, and welfare not always accepted as a good thing. The net effect is to restrict their intellectual curiosity about, and ability to empathise with, others of different political persuasions.

I see evidence for this every week when I hear otherwise bright and articulate students justify their political opinions with vague, lazy arguments. As John Stuart Mill foresaw, since they have never learned to defend value judgments that seem entirely natural to them, they will struggle to respond to their opponents beyond the school gates.

This is about more than education. With our politics increasingly polarised, it saddens me to see my students being initiated – deliberately or not – into an essentially Manichaean view of politics, with a checklist of “goodies” (leftists, trade unions, Corbyn) and “baddies” (Tories, Brexiteers, anyone who uses the phrase British values without irony)…"


I feel lucky. At the schools I attended in the 80s and early 90s there were centre-right as well as centre-left teachers. And in my day at university there were still SOME rightwing tutors (albeit outnumbered by about 4:1 by rabidly anti-American leftists, as I recall.)

But today the Left seems to have gotten a virtual chokehold on vast swathes of British education!

In one way, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Any reasonably intelligent student is going to form his or her own opinions and not be brainwashed by teachers or professors. Being penalised in assessments for having the “wrong” views also needn’t be a problem, because any reasonably astute and streetwise person will always adapt to his or her surroundings. I remember (not without genuine affection) one tutor who had some pretty nutty far-left politics. Well, y’know I didn’t give him any reason to think I disagreed with him :slight_smile:

Fine, but how about pupils and students who aren’t reasonably intelligent?

There is a risk that schools, at least, are now turning out whole generations of bone-headed liberal bigots who believe that anyone who disagrees with the doctrines that they have uncritically swallowed is somehow morally bad! One really did see this in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum - with the utter drivel and garbage about Brexit voters being “racist”, “hating foreigners”, etc.

There is, of course, a rich irony inasmuch that the EU is very far indeed from being any friend of the authentic political left. If anything, these “leftwing” folks have been conditioned into accepting a form of bureaucratic neoliberal government for the primary benefit of big multinational banks and companies, IMO.

I don’t know what the answer is. But it just can’t be good for society if young people are being heavily steered towards only one set of political views. I would certainly say the same thing if it were the right that were behaving this way.

The way I see it, this is an outcome of, and reaction to, two factors:

  1. Teachers, professors, journalists, etc. tend to be more liberal minded to begin with, just by nature of those professions.

  2. Right wing ideologies have become more radicalized over the past two decades – at least here in the US, and at least in some European countries. ( I don’t have enough info on the UK.)

As the right wing becomes more radical, the left leaning institutions overcompensate in trying to correct for this and we end up in a mess.

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“…1. Teachers, professors, journalists, etc. tend to me more liberal minded to begin with, just by nature of those professions…”

Hmm, I would question that. In the past the educational establishment was possibly much more balanced than it is now.

As for journalists, it seems to me they can be right, left or centre just as easily. Here in the UK we actually still have a print media which is (at least) 50% right-leaning. This is basically due to newspapers having to sell copies and attract advertising in order to survive. Leftwing papers like the Guardian tend to have lower circulation figures. Of course TV is another matter…

“In the past the educational establishment was possibly much more balanced than it is now.”

Yes because twenty years ago being center right meant something completely different than it does now. Twenty years ago “Obamacare” was a republican proposal, Victor Orban of Hungary was a centrist reformer, and the idea of Trump as president was a running joke.

Today, republicans are killing affordable care, Orban has become a far right demagogue… but the idea of Trump as president is still a running joke, so I guess some things never change.

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they shouldn’t be teaching politics, they should be teaching facts. it just so happens that the right-wing never has facts on their side, therefore they are left out of domains (like education) in which actual facts are somewhat relevant to the point.

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“…it just so happens that the right-wing never has facts on their side…”


You seriously think that no rightwing opinion (not even one single one of them) is fact based?

This is precisely the kind of simple-minded liberal bigotry that schools are fostering, isn’t it?

Maybe that sounds a little rude? But I’m just slightly incredulous that someone would feel that those on one or other side of politics “…never has facts on their side…”. Sigh.

Well, you’re basically talking about the US context there, no? This thread is about “British schools and universities.” It may be that something similar in happening to US higher education? Or maybe it’s not exactly the same? I don’t know.

I will say this: the modern Corbyn-Left in Britain makes Bernie Sanders look like a moderate centrist - quite literally. And most of the British Conservative Party would be Democrats in New York City.

So maybe we are talking about slightly different things?

Survey after survey shows that STEM subjects have a greater diversity of political views. Subjects such as art, history, social sciences and all the ‘studies’ disciplines that are controlled by the left. That suggests that it is self-propogation by leftist professors rather than the quality of the arguments which is leading to the imbalance.

But it’s not just the political views, but the atmosphere that has changed. Colin Schindler used to hold reasoned discussions amongst a people with varied backgrounds. Now Richard Millett is attacked after leaving SOAS simply for challenging the prevailing narrative. In the US, Barry Rubin’s Arab Marxist professors would never have marked him down for disagreeing on issues. It was the quality of research and the arguments made that mattered.

As for US campuses today: Gad Saad’s interview with Brett Weinstein from Evergreen state college. My Chat with Bret Weinstein - Part I (THE SAAD TRUTH _474) - YouTube

To quote the great philosopher Stephen Colbert: “Reality has always had a liberal bias.” :wink:

Jordan B. Peterson talks somewhere about personality types and political leanings. Concientious people tend right, while creative people tend left. In which case, shutting out either side seems like a bad idea.


Absolutely. I think young people should be exposed to a whole range of viewpoints. I wouldn’t even say we should be thinking in terms of quotas or anything like that. I just find (like the author of the article linked in the OP) that it can’t be healthy if things are so heavily biased in one direction that some school pupils are being virtually indoctrinated.

As I also said in an earlier post, I myself can think back very affectionately to university tutors who had some way-out-left politics. Having (from my point of view) nutty Marxist opinions doesn’t stop someone from being a damn good professor of German literature.

Perspective on the political spectrum certainly differs by country quite considerably - even within the west. Also perspective on what constitutes a ‘left-leaning policy’ and what constitutes a ‘right-leaning policy’ differs too.

ANyhow I don’t know anything about UK politics really, and your comment about the Corbyn-Left making Bernie Sanders look like a moderate centrist has me reading about Corbyn’s political views.