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A senior academic (James) at one of the UK’s most prestigious universities spoke exclusively to AltNewsMedia about the forces at work within academia, and some of the motivating factors behind their often hostile stance on issues such as Brexit. He wished to remain anonymous which we fully respect.
Universities are mostly left wing from a political standpoint, indeed a poll as recently as May 2017 from the Adam Smith Institute stated that 8 out of 10 university lecturers identify themselves as ‘left wing’, a number continually on the rise since the sixties. The supposed bastions of free speech and debate have in more recent times grabbed the headlines by activists on campus trying to close down talks from people with a viewpoint they dislike. When unsuccessful in actually stopping a speech, often the talks are disrupted by unruly and intimidating behaviour, as we saw at Bristol with Jacob Rees-Mogg. It may be alarming for parents sending their child for an education to know that there are forces trying to influence their offspring’s mind politically, or that for example, a leading professor feels it acceptable to hold a workshop such as “how to deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom” (Sussex University April 2017). Those parents may also feel unhappy that after paying £9,000 a year for fees, many university staff are striking for 14+ days before the end of this term (on full pay) and have warned students not to cross the picket lines. This critical time in their year before exams is disrupted because of senior staff unhappiness at lucrative final salary pensions being under threat.
Oh, but it doesn’t end there.
There is much to question at our universities. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, the eye popping reality of vice chancellor salaries recently came to light. The vice chancellor of Bath University pocketed £468,000 (a £45,000 pay rise from the previous year), had a £31,000 car loan written off, and had an additional £17,000 in allowances. After another huge pay rise, she was stepped down from increasing pressure, but the six figure salaries across all our universities are eye watering. The average is a cool quarter of a million. This is a doubling over the last ten years, but even more concerning is the fact that the Vice Chancellors sit on (and therefore influence) the panel that sets these salaries! This is certain to be of concern to tax payers, particularly for a role which is typically wining and dining and office based (most students will never see their VC). It is also unethical and corrupt for public sector employees to influence their own pay.
James stated that all staff were emailed at his university before the Brexit referendum advising them that they should vote for Remain, or funding (and by extension jobs) would be lost. He didn’t feel this was appropriate for a university, that should welcome freedom of thought and opinion. The attempted manipulation was revealed a day after the vote with a second email advising staff not to worry, as their particular funding wouldn’t be lost after all. This sickened James who complained at a senior level but was met with nothing but shrugs and an unwillingness to address his concern. He revealed to us what in his view is the real motivation for such a staunch Remain stance, that his university, like all others, applies for grant funding to the EU. This is a cash cow that is self serving in academia. Millions of euros are claimed to produce meaningless whitepapers, sending professors and academics on pleasant trips across Europe; the whitepapers then read and reviewed by fellow academics, followed by the funding being released from the EU coffers. It appears superficially that hundreds have read the white paper, but in reality it is mainly fellow academics who themselves then claim the next round of funding, and so the circle continues. This charade involves claiming days that often weren’t worked (one claim was for a person who it stated had worked three months solidly, but hadn’t worked a single day on the project). At another round of funding, five million euros had been allocated by the EU, and the five bidders agreed among themselves to take one million each, no detail of how this was costed out was discussed, it was literally finger in the air. This level of corruption appalls James, and is why he wished to speak out before he retires.
So it is little wonder Universities are so pro Remain. Their gravy train is coming to an end. The corruption is coming to light and the increasingly unhinged rantings of academics is very telling.
You can have the NHS or Brexit, but not both. One of them is life-affirming, people-helping, a massive endeavour for good. The other is the complete negation of those things.
Hard choice, eh?
— A C Grayling #FBPE #PeoplesVote #RemainAndReform (@acgrayling) February 16, 2018
Corruption and dishonesty is ugly, and both are seemingly rife across our universities. AltNewsMedia believes that an independent investigation should be held into the actions of a number of leading universities and any criminal wrongdoing prosecuted. Lecturers attempting political influence should be disciplined, and the universities found to have helped students ‘vote twice’ in the recent elections should be fined.
James is counting down the days to retirement, dismayed at what has become of a profession he once loved.