There was a time when universities prided themselves on being temples of intellectual freedom and original ideas.
Thinking the unthinkable, listening to dissident voices and bucking conventional wisdom were to be encouraged, not feared.
Today, our high seats of learning appear to have sacrificed that pluralism on the altar of a single Left-wing orthodoxy; one which brooks no opposition or alternative.
They have become factories of wokery, instilling in young minds the spurious notion that almost every advance in Western civilisation was achieved on the backs of oppressed people of colour.
The effects of slavery, colonialism and white privilege are so insidious they say, that they have permeated every corner of life – and every academic discipline.
Today, our high seats of learning appear to have sacrificed that pluralism on the altar of a single Left-wing orthodoxy; one which brooks no opposition or alternative. Pictured: Demonstrators during a Rhodes Must Fall protest in June 2020 in Oxford
Now the university standards watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency, wants this ‘critical race theory’ embedded into the teaching of subjects from maths to classics.
Some of its guidance is beyond satire. For example, computing students should address how ‘hierarchies of colonial value’ are ‘reinforced’ in their field.
Biomedicine courses must teach how influential scientists ‘benefited from and perpetuated misogyny, racism, homophobia, ableism and other prejudices’.
On and on it goes, this vacuous credo, fuelling guilt and resentment in young people – many of whom will become the leaders of tomorrow – and distracting them from their studies.
Yes, slavery was abominable and terrible things were done in the name of empire. And yes, these wrongs and their consequences must be studied and learned from. But shouldn’t that be done in history, sociology or possibly geography classes?
‘Decolonising’ maths and science curricula, or seeing the study of languages through the prism of ‘injustice and equality related to imperialism’ is absurd and self-defeating.
Sir Isaac Newton (pictured) may have benefited from the profits of colonialism but does that mean physics students should ignore his seminal laws of motion?
It undermines academic integrity and will alienate students. They come to university to learn, not to be preached at and shamed over the sins of long-forgotten ancestors.
Sir Isaac Newton may have benefited from the profits of colonialism but does that mean physics students should ignore his seminal laws of motion?
The fact is that not every person of colour is a victim, just as not every white person is privileged. And not every problem in Africa or Asia is a legacy of colonialism. Yet in today’s universities, speaking these obvious truths could easily get you cancelled.
It’s a form of mind control more suited to an Orwell novel than the higher education system of a 21st century liberal democracy.
Beware the dragon
MI6 chief Richard Moore last year named Chinese expansionism as one of the biggest threats to British life.
Beijing was engaged in large-scale espionage in the UK, he said, and wanted to use technology to create ‘a web of authoritarian control’.
During his Tory leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak seemed to have got the message, echoing his words of warning.
Yesterday however, the PM’s tone had softened to a worrying extent. Rather than being a clear and present danger, China was now merely a ‘systemic challenge’.
MI6 chief Richard Moore (pictured) last year named Chinese expansionism as one of the biggest threats to British life
As the world’s second biggest economy after the US, it makes sense to maintain cordial diplomatic and trade relations with China (right: China’s President Xi Jinping at 2022 G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia yesterday) where possible. But Mr Sunak (left at the G20 Summit yesterday) must not be seduced (as David Cameron was) into treating it as a trusted friend
As the world’s second biggest economy after the US, it makes sense to maintain cordial diplomatic and trade relations with China where possible. But Mr Sunak must not be seduced (as David Cameron was) into treating it as a trusted friend.
And letting Chinese technicians near our vital infrastructure, would be folly – as Boris Johnson realised when he banned the communications company Huawei from helping develop the 5G telecoms network.
China is an oppressive surveillance state bent on world domination. All dealings should be approached with extreme caution and good faith should not be assumed.