Government slams 'egregious wokery' of charity-run university racial equality scheme

15 May 2022, 01:39

Cambridge joined the Race Equality Charter scheme in 2016.
Cambridge joined the Race Equality Charter scheme in 2016. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A charity charging universities thousands of pounds a year to participate in a racial equality scheme is "the most egregious wokery", MPs have claimed.

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Advance HE, which counts scores of universities as members of its Racial Equality Charter scheme, is reportedly responsible for cultural and curriculum changes at universities, according to the Telegraph.

The charity previously received millions of pounds in taxpayer funding but now makes its money through membership fees from universities involved in the scheme.

Government figures believe that Advance HE's influence has led to initiatives such as Cambridge University's guide for academics to use 'trigger warnings' in course texts.

A handbook for the university's centre for teaching and learning said: "As well as students with mental health conditions, we believe that content notes can play a crucial role in helping to level the playing field for minoritised students of all kinds, as part of the university's commitment to inclusivity in teaching."

Cambridge joined the Race Equality Charter scheme in 2016.

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According to the paper, a Government source said of Advance HE: "They don't get [Government] money anymore but universities pay them.

"They use diversity to degenerate universities into the most egregious wokery."

Brendan Clarke-Smith, who is a former member of the Commons education committee, added: "When institutions like Cambridge University are putting trigger warnings on the Little House on the Prairie, you know something's going badly wrong on university campuses."

However, Alison Johns, Advance HE's chief executive, said: "The Race Equality Charter is a sector-created, evidenced-based framework to support staff in universities to develop their own plans to address the independent evidence of racial inequality in HE from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and Universities UK.

"It is entirely voluntary, in no way prescriptive, and claims that we – an educational charity and not a campaigning organisation – tell universities to drop texts, or rip up curricula are untrue."

Cambridge University has been contacted for comment.