[650 words] What is the role and purpose of a University ? Academic research and education ? Social engineering and political indoctrination ? Indeed, is it possible to make a clear distinction between the academic and educational on the one hand, and the implementation of a philosophical agenda on the other ? Doesn’t history indicate that the University of Oxford often reflects the intellectual climate of the times ?
What then is to be ascertained from a sample of announcements and news items on the University website today, May 11th 2021 ?
One item reports the results of research revealing that Chinese government officials have been deliberately manipulating social media. Chinese officials even resort to using western type identities to hide their true identity, and so their actual agenda.
But where is the reference in this research to any form of comparative research. Is the Chinese government really the only organization behaving like this ?
But of course for a western institution like the University of Oxford, the Chinese government is totalitarian. It has a particular world view and any deviation from its norms is wrong and must be eradicated. Whereas Oxford is a free and open western institution entitled to pass judgement.
But looking at the University of Oxford’s website for May 11th, what do we find ?
Regarding vaccination, the news and events page has this assertion:
“But we’re not protected until we’re all protected: by getting vaccinated, you’re joining the fight too. We continue to follow through on our commitment with AstraZeneca to protect everyone everywhere, with tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine being made available at no profit to 146 low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX programme.”
Not protected until we are all protected ? To protect everyone, everywhere ? [Incidentally, is it legitimate to ask whether the non profit, Socialist economic philosophy applied by the University to the contract with AstraZeneca has caused the recent problems for their vaccine ? ]
It is, of course, a feature of totalitarian regimes that they control every aspect of society, economy and polity. They intervene according to their particular worldview in order to ensure that Society will reflect and maintain their way of thinking and behaving. Obstacles must be overcome in order to implement their particular, preconceived agenda as to how the world must work.
And Oxford ? According to this item posted yesterday, Oxford is doing its very best to ensure social equality among its student intake. The proportion of incoming students from State schools is at a record 68.6%; the proportion “ identifying as” Black Minority Ethnic has risen to 23.6%; and the proportion of incoming women is 54.2% of all admissions.
The University is so successful in its social engineering efforts that it has succeeded in ensuring that the socially deprived groups labelled “BME” and “Women” enjoy a higher proportion of places at the University of Oxford than they do in the UK population as a whole. Bravo !
Referring to this success, the vice Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson is cited saying:
“..the pandemic has …. not weakened our commitment to diversifying the make-up of our student body. The progress evidenced in this, our fourth annual Admissions Report, is a testament to the dedication of our Admissions Teams …. “
While Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, said bluntly:
“we remain resolute in stamping out inequality in access to Oxford”
Stamping out inequality !
Then what was the thinking which informed the choice of panellists for the Event titled: “Women making history: shaping Oxford’s next century” scheduled for May 19th 2021 ?
Of the 4 panellists, 3 are BME and one is “a leading LGBT+ activist“. This by no means reflects the social makeup of either the University or United Kingdom today, nor of the University or UK in the last 100 years. Does it then reflect the organizers aspirations for the University in the next 100 years ? What thinking does the panel composition reflect ?
But then what should we expect from Semantics and Academics ?