'Dark shadow over education': league table finds half of universities 'poisoning' students' minds with 'woke ideology'

16 January 2023, 07:21

Students are being 'poisoned' by woke ideology, an MP has warned
Students are being 'poisoned' by woke ideology, an MP has warned. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

More than half of Britain's universities are teaching students a "woke ideology", a new league table has claimed.

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The table, put together by right-wing think thank Civitas, found that many students were being given "trigger warnings" for upsetting material, and were being taught about "white privilege" in "a new moralism that reeks of hypocrisy".

Top universities dominate the list, with eight Russell Group institutions in the top ten. Cambridge and Oxford are first and second respectively, with "unconscious bias" events for freshers. Bristol is third, having discouraged the word "mankind" to be more inclusive.

A Conservative MP and former education the minister slammed the universities in light of the findings, calling the teaching "poisonous".

"Universities should be places of light and liberty learning, but a dark shadow has fallen over too much of higher education, he told the Mail.

Peter Pan could be too upsetting for some students, Aberdeen University warned
Peter Pan could be 'emotionally challenging' for some students, Aberdeen University warned. Picture: Getty

"Woke nonsense has replaced scholarship and too many universities are not only wasting resources but risk poisoning the minds of generations to come. The report is disturbing."

The league table, put together by researcher Dr Richard Norrie, ranks universities for their "campus wokery" by looking through their websites, as well as national and local media.

Nearly two thirds of universities give trigger warnings to students. Some 79 institutions discuss white privilege on their websites, while 59% have training material on anti-racism.

Some other examples include Aberdeen University giving a trigger warning for Peter Pan because of its "emotionally challenging" content, and Chester University warning students reading the Harry Potter books that they "can lead to difficult conversations about gender, race, sexuality, class and identity".

Harry Potter presents difficult themes
Harry Potter could lead to difficult conversations, Chester University cautioned. Picture: Getty

Meanwhile Imperial College London reportedly urged students and staff to have "hard conversations" with loved ones who deny white privilege, and the University of Warwick outlawed the term "trigger warning" because it could upset students.

Mr Norrie criticised universities for "decrying colonialism" despite taking money from China, which he claims is "mired in modern colonial controversy and accusations of genocide".

The author called this attitude a "new moralism that reeks of hypocrisy".

A spokesperson for the Russell Group said: "Our universities are places where free speech and the expression of all ideas and viewpoints is encouraged and protected.

"There is nothing in this report, which is based on flawed assumptions, to suggest that this is not the case."

Read more: Universities told to 'go woke' as degrees watchdog calls for courses to be 'decolonised'

Read more: 'Woke' uni slammed for telling females not to challenge trans people using 'wrong' toilets

Universities 'absolutely pathetic' for woke measures for students

It comes after the degrees watchdog ordered universities to "decolonise" courses and teach about the impacts of "white supremacy".

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which checks on course standards, has updated its recommendations to include critical race theory in November.

It suggests courses – including sciences and maths – teach about colonialism and "white supremacy", with many tutors expected to take the advice on board.

One example from the QAA for computing courses is addressing how "hierarchies of colonial value" are "reinforced" in the field.

In Geography, it is suggested that "racism, classism, ableism, homophobia and patriarchy" are acknowledged.

The advice came as part of 25 "subject benchmarks", which describe what students should study and the standards they should meet.

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