Just how bad is academic bias at our universities? Judge for yourself.
One student was told in an industrial relations class that if she wrote a paper arguing in favour of WorkChoices industrial relations reform, she would be marked down. Another, studying to become a teacher, was forced to read textbooks accusing the Howard government of racism towards Aborigines. A third was welcomed into her classroom with a lecturer's boasts of working as part of the Labor party's successful election campaign.
It is precisely because of stories like these, which occur with alarming regularity on our university campuses, that the Young Liberals are running a campaign to Make Education Fair.
To date, we have received numerous reports from Liberal, Labor and non-political students of academics using the classroom to promote their own political ideology. While these reports have come to us from a diverse range of students, nearly all cite a hostile atmosphere to mainstream or conservative principles and the intolerant suppression of ideas that do not fit into a far-left worldview.
Tellingly, many of the complaints we have received are from current teachers or those studying to be teachers, who are simply fed up with the amount of bias present in the curriculum. Some have even been driven to give up teaching in despair at the left-wing culture that dominates education faculties.
For example, the curriculum policy of the Australian Education Union (AEU) states that “Schooling should assist in overcoming inequalities between social groups”, while a list of their current campaigns include: Refugees Campaign, Anti-Poverty Week, Say No to Racism and the World March of Women. The AEU's private school's counterpart, the Independent Education Union, proudly professes its support for convicted terror suspect Mohammed Dawood (aka David Hicks) on its website. Then there is the New South Wales English syllabus, which aims for students to “develop positive self-concepts” and “promote a fair and just society that values diversity”.
While these all may be admirable “social justice” goals in their own right, they reveal the unions as groups of highly politicised activists who pursue an agenda of radical social change under the guise of education. This undoubtedly explains why the AEU spent millions of dollars for Labor during the election campaigns, and why the NSW Teacher's Federation printed and distributed of anti-WorkChoices political propaganda to students.
However, the ideological bias that permeates academia may not always manifest itself in such overt ways. A common complaint we have received concerns the mandatory readings chosen by lecturers that may all argue for a particular point of view. For example, several readings on whether Australia needs a Bill of Rights all argued overwhelmingly in the affirmative, presenting students with an unbalanced perspective. In completing essays or exams, students are then required to only reference the materials the lecturer has specified, presenting little opportunity for dissent.
In fact, many students are not presented with alternative viewpoints on complex issues during their entire university experience and simply adopt the left-leaning views of academics as their own - which, of course, is precisely the intended outcome.
Along with course readings, lecturers may also choose textbooks that promote a particular ideology, or present political opinions as fact.
A law student contacted us recently concerned that his textbook Economics, Business Ethics & Law declared that the "capitalist ruling class want a system capable of protecting their wealth … the obvious alternative means for economic organisation for consideration here is socialism".
This highly ideological Marxist worldview has been imported wholesale from radical activists in the United States. A quick look at the Course Descriptions for arts subjects from our major universities illustrates that, almost without exception, each subject area is viewed through the prism of gender, race, ethnicity, class or sexuality.
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