Don't expect them to abandon illiberalism
A survey from the respected, Left-leaning Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) shows that British undergraduates have caught up with the craziness of their North American counterparts. If policymakers don’t act quickly, Britain is likely to become a substantially less free society.
The Hepi report finds that 61% of British students think that “when in doubt” their university “should ensure all students are protected from discrimination rather than allow unlimited free speech”. Just 17% back the free speech position. This 61-17 slant represents a big change from the already illiberal 37-27 margin recorded in 2016.
Among the other findings:
- The proportion of students who think academics should be fired if they “teach material that heavily offends some students” is 36% (over double the 15% in 2016), with just 32% opposed
- 39% believe student unions ‘should ban all speakers that cause offence to some students’ (more than double the 16% figure in 2016), with just 31% opposed
- 76% think universities should “get rid of” memorials of potentially controversial figures
- 77% think there should be “mandatory training for all university staff” on “understanding other cultures” (up from 55% in 2016)
- 64% think universities should “consult special interest groups” such as religious or gender societies before holding campus events (up from 40% in 2016)
- 86% support trigger warnings and 62% back safe spaces
Eric Kaufmann is professor of politics at Birkbeck College, University of London and an adjunct fellow of the Manhattan Institute.
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