HIGHER EDUCATION

University courses should include an element of assessment common across universities. This would enable those at less prestigious institutions to demonstrate their ability relative to all students. Merit would then weigh more than institutional reputation when assessing a student’s academic record. The possibility of gaining excellent qualifications at a more local university could also help family members stay more local to each other, to the benefit of family life in the longer term.

All non-UK students should pay fees.

Students found to be using illegal drugs should not receive government funding.

Universities should be centres of open debate and stimulating exposure to diverse arguments, not giant “safe spaces” where views judged to be undesirable are driven underground. The government should make it clear to universities that this is what is expected of them. Universities should expose students to a diverse cross section of opinions. Academic staff should remain free to reflect their own political, religious and philosophical views in their teaching and other academic work. Concern arises, however, when the views of academic staff overwhelmingly lean in one direction, leading to impressionable young students concluding that this view is the only academically respectable one.

Steps should be taken to ensure that students engage with proponents of a wide spectrum of views. Bringing in academics from other institutions, or other thinkers, to debate publicly with university staff could be helpful in this regard. Where whole departments seem dedicated to a specific ideology, as might be the case with Gender Studies, for example, any form of public funding should be reconsidered. Another example is the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, at Edinburgh University, that states: “We draw from a range of theorists such as Bourdieu, Marxism, Friere, Dewey, the Frankfurt and Chicago schools, critical race studies, feminist theory, post-colonial writings and queer theory.” Such ideological think tanks should not be funded as university departments (unless one wishes the taxpayer to fund far left divisive polemic about the “the Hideous Whiteness Of Brexit” and “how white supremacy has operated before and after the UK’s EU referendum”)