It’s no secret that many, if not all, of Australia’s universities – particularly those in the G8 group – are very left wing. Much of the content, nature of the subjects, academics and students themselves generally have a progressive bias.
This is highly unfortunate, to say the least.
Places of higher learning, intellectual challenge and debate should not be converting students to their left-leaning views. Instead, students and staff – as well as class content – should be fostering diversity of opinion and not treating conservatives as total oddities.
This is an idea which has drawn support from think tanks like the IPA and eminent writers including Michael McConell, Sinclair Davidson and James Patterson. They identify several problems with the politicised university culture that today exists as a by-product of selective class materials and social conditioning.
James, for instance, calls out public servants and academics on their failure to substantively address real public policy issues:
‘To be fair, public servants do not escape criticism, as Shergold writes, ‘they find it hard to envisage how [the] path of discovery can be planned or mandated, undertaken to meet prescribed outcomes.’
James also criticises the ‘well-funded’ The Conversation, which laps up financial support from ‘some corporate partners, the CSIRO, the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and the Victorian Department of Business and Innovation.’
Sinclair gives us some shocking facts and figures about U.S. universities: ‘a recent US study found that 72 per cent of 1,643 academics identified themselves as being ‘liberal' in the US sense and only 15 per cent as being ‘conservative'.” He suggests that the figures are likely to be similar in Australia.
Interestingly, the article goes on to state that many (if not most) economics students have not heard of F.A. Hayek. Citing 1986 economics Nobel Prize laureate James Buchanan, Sinclair explains why:
‘He had “politicised himself, and for the wrong cause, an unforgivable sin in the intellectual atmosphere of mid-century.” That academic sin remains beyond the pale even today-at least for those outside the left establishment.’
Michael MacConnell goes even further. The progressive bias pervades the Hollywood film industry, albeit in more subtle ways:
‘Michael Moore can craft a movie that carefully and deceitfully mocks guns, pharmaceutical companies, or capitalism itself. How well made they are ultimately means little, as the bulk of people shuffling in and out of cinemas are not looking for a preachy, two-hour polemic.’
He has a point. There may not necessarily be a mass left-wing conspiracy, but there is a general bias that is beginning to extend from university campuses to popular culture. Concurrently, conservatives are being chastised more ferociously than ever before. It’s something we all need to be concerned about, especially when it’s beginning to stifle free speech and thought in our top centres of learning.
Here five instances of left-wing cultural bias in Australian Universities. The fact that these protests come primarily from Sydney and Melbourne University speaks volumes about where this cultural hegemony is most concentrated.
- Protests, fights and police involvement ensued at Sydney University – in the library - when the coalition government proposed deregulating university fees: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/riot-police-clash-with-student-protesters-at-the-university-of-sydney-20160406-go08f2.html.
- In Melbourne, there was a student-led protest against the election of Donald Trump. Some banners included “We wanted Bernie” and “#pussyfightsback”: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/protesters-gather-in-melbourne-to-protest-against-election-of-donald-trump-20161112-gsnv7t.html.
- Independent MP, along with a large chunk of Sydney University students, described the institution’s decision to honour John Howard with a doctorate ‘preposterous’: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-30/protests-erupt-at-sydney-university-john-howard-doctorate/7893528.
- Melbourne University, again. Nine students went fully nude to – logically – protest against the university’s funding of fossil fuels: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-19/students-strip-off-to-protest-melbourne-uni-investments/7338544.
- Sydney University (once again) goes overboard on protesting against the supposedly rampant ‘rape culture on campus’: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/protesters-attend-sydney-university-open-day-to-campaign-against-sexual-violence-20160827-gr2jmm.html.
Marija Polic is a Research Associate at the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.