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University teachers see freedom of expression at universities at risk

Reading Time: 3 minutes

  • University teachers find the opinion climate at German universities constricting and intolerant
  • Student protests block open debate and discussion
  • Academic oligarchs restrict right-wing views, support left-wing views

A survey involved 1106 interviews with professors and academic staff at the end of 2019. It was conducted by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (Institute for the study of democracy, Allensbach municipality)

Almost a third of university lecturers stated that they felt constrained by formal or informal guidelines on political correctness. These restrictions are felt strongest in medical research, where 40 percent of doctors complain about it. But 36 percent of the humanities scholars also experience restrictions, especially in teaching.

De Welt (translated)

A planned visit by AfD (German nationalist party) politician Beatrix von Storch to the Free University of Berlin was cancelled following protests. Students – by no means the majority – had mobbed to prevent their participation.

A climate of intolerant opinion at universities plays a major role, especially in political, religious and gender issues.

Around 79 percent of university lecturers believe they should be allowed to invite a right-wing populist to a panel discussion . However, 74 percent believe that they will encounter considerable resistance in the university – either from the students or the university management. Not so with the invitation of a left-wing populist, which 84 percent of university lecturers would approve and only 21 percent expect resistance.

De Welt (translated)

Noticeably, the proportion of lecturers who feel constrained by ‘political correctness’ is greater than the proportion who feel constrained by finance.

Interestingly, another (smaller) study claimed that 93 percent of surveyed academics thought there is a lot of freedom of science in Germany. This compared with 87 percent in the USA and 11 percent in China.

In a struggling economy in which half of immigrants still do not have a job after five years, Germany can ill-afford harmfully-indoctrinated students, never mind how diverse their education.

Companies in Germany are welcoming the spread of subjects available in German universities (in some areas a one-third increase in five years) but are concerned about the limiting moralisation that students can come out with. “For international commerce, ” says one CEO (paraphrased translation), “we need diversity of thought and ideas, not the constriction applied by modern academia”.

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