Image: Flickr / Swansea University

New report findings show an overrepresentation of left-liberal views in academia

In a report by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) entitled ““Lackademia: Why do academics lean Left?” new findings have found an overrepresentation in academia of individuals with left-wing and liberal views.

The report, written by Noah Carl, details the significant left-liberal skew in British academia with there being a great difference in the political leaning of the academics and the British public. It claims 8 out of 10 UK academics are left-wing or liberal.

The report refers to a Times Higher Education (THE) online poll in which academics were asked whom they intended to vote for in the general election: among academics, support for Labour was 46 per cent and support for the Conservatives was 11 per cent.

At least 50 per cent of the general public voted for right- wing or conservative parties in 2015, which is starkly different to the academics.

In June of 2016, the THE ran another online poll, which asked academics how they planned to vote in the upcoming EU referendum: 89 per cent of respondents said they planned to vote Remain, while only 10 per cent said they planned to vote Leave.

In the referendum itself, 52 per cent of voters opted for the more conservative 5 position, this highlighting the stark underrepresentation of academics with conservative views.

The report highlight the repercussions of this ideological homogeny in academia. The most obvious being the constraints on freedom of speech, which could stem from ideas customarily going unchallenged and systematic biases in scholarship.

Noah Carl states that this issue affects: “the social sciences, the humanities and the arts in particular, where right wing lecturers are scarce.”

This left-liberal skew clearly seen in seminars and places of discussion at universities. One such example of this is a lecturer at Sussex University who organised a workshop aimed at staff on how to “deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom”.

Noah Carl states that this is a overrepresentation of left-liberal views in British academia is a trend that has increased since the 1960s. He also placed this issue of a lack of political diversity in the same light as the lack of diversity in gender, race and sexuality.

The report refers to a number of reasons as to why this imbalance has occurred, one of which is “openness to experience” as individuals who are more open to experience have a tendency to pursuit intellectually stimulating careers such as academia.

However, the report has been criticised heavily. In an article written by John Morgan in Times Higher Education, Morgan states that: “Carl’s wafer-thin report looks like an attempt to import a US-style campus culture war into the UK. I would expect plenty more such attempts in the coming months and years.”

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Comments (2)

  • Steven Orage

    Ah the Adam Smith institute an nonpartisan view on the political state of universities, and not a rabidly right-wing think tank with dubious corporate interests.

    This is a non-story and part of a wider trend of the right loosing arguments in academia and responding with childish petulance saying universities are ‘biased against’ them instead of accepting that their world views are flawed

  • Steven Orage

    Considering voter participation last GE was %66, that %33 of the public who didn’t vote suggests you need to get better editors

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