British universities have begun to make greater use of new teaching modules in which first-year students are taught about diversity, racial equity, and sustainability. Some of these required modules are compulsory, which means students must complete them successfully to continue their studies.
According to critics, these courses are a manifestation of thought indoctrination and go against the principles of free-thinking within the university system.
Scottish Oldest College, University of St. Andrews, requires first-year students to participate in compulsory education modules on sustainability, racial diversity, and sexual behavior, otherwise, they will not be allowed to enroll in the school’s academic program. If they fail the final test, they must pass it again, writes The Times.
For example, the module teaches students to recognize “personal guilt” as a “useful starting point for overcoming unconscious bias.” The questions concern racism, prejudice and, for example, biodiversity.
The tricky question, for example, is whether “equality” means treating everyone equally. The correct answer is no because equality means “treating people differently in a way that is appropriate to their needs, so that everyone has fair conditions and equal opportunities.“
Similarly, the University of Kent in England requires first-year students to participate in a four-hour module on racial diversity to “educate” them out of prejudices. In the test, they are exhorted that if they see someone cursing or wearing second-hand clothes, they should not attribute it to the bad morals, poverty, or illiteracy of the given race.
Anti-discrimination courses have also been introduced by the University of Southampton, while the University of Bath is organizing a “carbon literacy training” to introduce first-year students to “climate balance”.
Courses arouse criticism from both students and teachers
Many students and professors have sharply criticize these modules.
“It’s a demonstration of thought police and an attempt to indoctrinate individuals’ free-thinking,” said one recent student at the University of Kent about the course.
“I wasn’t happy about those questions. You have to do everything they want you to do. But everyone has a different opinion on these things,“ a student at the University of St. Andrews said. She thinks that the modules go against the principle of academic freedom of speech. However, new students do not protest against them, because according to her, they are afraid of the consequences.
According to Chris Skidmore, a former university minister, some university courses are an “abuse of university authority.” According to him, students should be given support, not moralized, in the transition to university.
British universities are pushing back against these accusations, arguing that they meet the requirements that come from the students.
“All of these modules were introduced in response to clearly expressed demand from students,” said a spokesman for the University of St. Andrews. Allegedly, the courses at the university have been running for five years, with the university dealing with only one complainant during that time.
However, according to Derby University professor Dennis Hayes, universities should not blindly apply everything required by student unions or human resources departments.
“It’s done with the best of intentions, but it’s not appropriate for a university that should teach people how to think, not what they should think,” added Hayes.