Stupid, racist and uneducated – many academics I know think that these three words characterise the 17.4million people who voted for Brexit.
After the referendum, many of these same academics spent time publicly crying and ranting about the vote. Once the hysteria had passed, there was a period of agonising self-blame: ‘We’ve failed as teachers!’ ‘What more could we have done?’
But this lament wasn’t about education, it wasn’t about academics’ failure to teach English, history, maths, physics and all the other disciplines that constitute the university. No, these academics felt that they had failed to instil students with particular behaviours, beliefs and attitudes. These academics see higher education as having aims beyond the pursuit of knowledge within the disciplines. They believe that the university is ultimately concerned with ‘social justice’.
In other words, these academics have politicised higher education. The fact that the UK voted to leave the EU, against the advice of many academics and other so-called experts, has left many academics feeling depressed. Their political project appears to be over.
So devastated are some lecturers and professors, that some universities are offering Brexit therapy, for the disaffected don. The University of Nottingham has provided a half-day ‘wellbeing workshop’ to help academics cope with ‘uncertainty, grief and anger’. They will receive resilience training, including ‘mindfulness’ sessions, to help them cope with the referendum result.