Universities minister warns against decolonising curricula to avoid unfashionable subjects

first_imgUniversities minister Sam Gyimah Speaking at the official launch of the new higher education regulator the Office for Students (OfS), Mr Gyimah said: “What we should be cautious of – and this is caution – is phasing out parts of the curriculum that just happen to be unpopular or unfashionable.“I genuinely believe that part of the university experience is actually facing up to the unpopular, facing up to the unfashionable, engaging with it, challenging it, that is how you widen your horizons.”He also said that universities should compensate students affected by ongoing strikes by union members in a bitter row over pensions.Mr Gyimah said that Department for Education (DfE) officals are “looking closely” at the issue, as he warned institutions that they must “step up to the plate”.He said it is “essential” that universities compensate students for missing out on lectures due to the strikes as “this is at a vital time of the academic year [when] people are preparing for exams”. Meanwhile, Cambridge University’s English Literature professors last year discussed proposals to add more black writers to reading lists, following a student campaign to decolonise the curriculum.The National Union of Students (NUS) ran a campaign titled “Why is My Curriculum White?” where students were encouraged to question whether they are taught from a white, male, Western perspective. Universities minister Sam Gyimah The new universities minister has warned academics against  “decolonising” curricula to avoid “unfashionable” subjects.Sam Gyimah said that universities should be “cautious” about phasing out writers and ideas from courses,merely on the basis that they are unpopular with students.Instead, students should “face up” to such ideas and challenge them, which he said is all part of the higher education experience.Students at a number of universities have called for courses to include more works by writers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.Earlier this month Baroness Amos, the Labour life peer who runs the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), said that the university is is decolonising its curriculums as part of a culture shift.Students at Soas have previously called for figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant to be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white, while insisting that “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia.last_img read more