Jonathan Petre, Daily Mail, March 3, 2018
A university has ditched a degree course on rural Britain because it says black and ethnic minority students are ‘less likely’ to visit the English countryside.
Academics feared their teaching ‘normalised white experiences’, while ‘disadvantaged’ undergraduates from other backgrounds struggled to grasp concepts such as the ‘rural idyll’ – so scored lower grades.
Undergraduates now study rural areas around the world, with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, so teenagers from ethnic minorities can ‘more readily see themselves and their backgrounds’ represented.
Kingston University is the latest institution to try to boost ‘diversity’ while ‘decolonising’ their degrees amid criticism they are too white and Western.
The Mail on Sunday last year revealed that activists at the School of Oriental and African Studies were calling for more African and Asian philosophers to be taught at the expense of white, European thinkers.
But critics said universities were pandering to ‘political correctness’ and were ‘stupid’ if they let down students by dumbing down degrees.
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘If these students don’t know about their own countryside, then the university should be giving this a higher priority not a lower one.
‘By moving away from rural England to a world perspective, they are actually letting down the ethnic minority students.’
Last week, Universities Minister Sam Gyimah also warned against ‘decolonising’ degrees. Kingston University said non-white students had performed less well than their white classmates because they ‘seemed less familiar with the types of places being discussed in terms of their physical, economic and social landscapes’.
In tests for the new global rural geographies course that replaced the British countryside exams, black and ethnic minority students got better scores than their white counterparts.
The academics said: ‘Unwittingly, the module had normalised white experiences contributing to outcomes that disadvantaged black and ethnic minority students.’
A spokesman said the university was ‘committed to creating an environment in which all students, irrespective of their background, can thrive’.