Proper debate at universities is in danger of being stifled because three-quarters of academics are now left-wing liberals, a report has warned.
The Adam Smith Institute said there has been an increasing ‘skew’ towards the left in higher education since the 1960s, which has resulted in a ‘homogenous’ academic community.
The free market think-tank said only 12 per cent of lecturers and researchers are conservatives, prompting fears those with certain views may be being discriminated against.
The differing proportions are in contrast to the general population, half of which tend to vote for right-wing parties, the report said.
The report shows that academics now are more left wing than they were in the 1960s. It urges universities to commit to ideological diversity with the same fervour they commit to gender, class and race diversity
Ben Southwood, head of research, said: ‘Conservatives have left the academy. You find a fair few libertarians—people with economically right-wing but socially liberal views—but hardly any who admit to being socially conservative.
‘In principle, political views shouldn’t affect good scholarship, and it probably doesn’t matter if all our physicists are communists—unless they are passing nuclear secrets to foreign powers.
‘But we should be less sanguine if all sociologists or anthropologists are, as they seem to be, there are obvious ways their views could infect their scholarship.
‘No one is suggesting quotas, but we should be mindful of too much intellectual homogeneity. As John Stuart Mill pointed out, we need to air views in order to find out what’s true.’
The paper said it is not the case that intelligent people are more likely to be left-wing, as the top five per cent of the population tend to be split along the same political lines as the wider public.
The report warns that without more ideological diversity in academia, the rejection of left-liberal values will increasingly equate to denying objective facts.
It may also cause a ‘right-wing backlash’, with right-leaning Governments taking away funding from universities they see as ideological opponents rather than apolitical scholars, the think-tank warned.
The report said the trend could lead to curtailing of free speech on campus, biased research and skewed teaching.