It’s time to sort out our universities



Britain has some of the finest universities in the world. Our top universities have earned a reputation globally for being leading pioneers in research and teaching, always performing well in world rankings. Students from all over the world have, for years, arrived in the United Kingdom, in pursuit of education and learning. 

However, something has changed. In June, it was reported by research group QS that Universities in the United Kingdom have been given their worst ever rankings in the world league table, with nearly three quarters of our institutions slipping down. This revelation has triggered serious concerns about the current trajectory of British universities. Of course QS have all too readily decided to blame Brexit. But is it possible that there could be other reasons?

Certainly, it seems our universities are growing ever more concerned with selling courses which, whilst profitable for the institution, offer little long-term value for the graduate. Even more worrying is the issue of left-wing, identitarian politicisation. Research conducted by Noah Carl of the Adam Smith Institute revealed issues with academic bias; an over representation of left-wing views and an under-representation of right-wing views creating an increasingly off-putting and myopic climate.

This over dominance of one set of views is clearly affecting the quality of learning. Academic bias is most definitely a problem which needs to be addressed, and it is an issue which is not sufficiently debated in public sphere. 

Ideological imbalance in universities undermines impartiality, and even critical thinking. It should not be much of a surprise that students with Conservative views could feel alienated in a learning environment dominated by left-wing narratives – putting them off their courses and even leading to dogmatic academics marking them down.

Higher education should be an arena of original ideas, thoughts and knowledge; however, universities dominated by one ideological stance undermine this noble aspiration. In addition, bias could also limit the topics which are able to be explored and researched; for instance, left-leaning academics will likely only pursue areas of preference. 

It is a serious concern that, for four years in a row, British universities have continued to plummet in the world league tables. Universities need to be places of worthwhile free expression and free thought. They are long overdue proper reform.

Ramsha Khan is a writer and journalist. Follow her on twitter: @Ramshaaleeze