In a conciliatory speech to the annual conference of Universities UK, Sam Gyimah has rejected a claim from the former Office for Students nominee Toby Young that universities are “left-wing madrassas”.
Delivering the keynote address at this year’s conference of the vice-chancellors’ group in Sheffield, universities minister Gyimah struck a noticeably emollient tone as he outlined his vision for higher education. In the past few months, the minister has criticised “the political monoculture of universities” and spoken of self-censorship by Conservative students as a threat to freedom of speech on campus.
However, Gyimah’s speech to university leaders was notable for the absence of any mention of the perceived threat to freedom of speech in universities. Instead, he said that “our best universities are not ivory towers. Still less are they ‘left-wing madrassas’, as one controversialist chose to describe them.”