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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 11:05 GMT
Right-wing students 'suffer 'bias'
Teenagers
Some students say they are 'hounded' by lecturers
Some students who express right-wing views are being marked down in exams, according to a group of young Tories.

The Young Britons Foundation says some universities are becoming places "of indoctrination" rather than centres of intellectual development.

The group, which wants the Tories to stay close to the right, says students need to hear alternative view points.

But the ex-boss of the Tories' official youth wing, told BBC's Today programme the bias suggested does not exist.

Complaints

The Young Britons Foundation (YBF), which aims to develop the talents of young Conservatives and "classical liberal activists", claims left-wing lecturers ban students from their classes if they disagree with their views.

Donal Blaney, YBF's executive president, says his group has received a number of complaints from students who insist they "are suffering bias".

It may well be ... that this level of bias doesn't exist, but certainly anecdotally it appears that it does
Donal Blaney
Young Britons Foundation

"Some of them complain that when they raise points of view that advocate free market economics or classical liberal sides of the argument, they are either hounded down by their lecturers or marked down in exams ..." he told Today.

"What we are about is giving students a chance to hear ideas they're rarely exposed to.

"The problem is that universities are supposed to be facilitators of learning and instead, what seems to be happening is rather than being places of intellectual development, they are places of indoctrination."

'Out of step'

Mr Blaney said while the "overwhelming majority of students get an excellent education" there was "a problem that needs to be dealt with".

"It may well be ... that this level of bias doesn't exist, but certainly anecdotally it appears that it does," he said.

It's the reactionary politics of the past and reactionary politics is no longer relevant in today's Britain
Richard Hilton

Now the YBF, which follows the thinking of a collection of American think-thanks, most notably The Young America's Foundation, is now carrying out research to find out the extent of the situation.

"We think that there is a gap that needs filling by someone researching this and giving students the chance to hear the other side of the argument and that's what we are trying to do," Mr Blaney added.

But Richard Hilton, who recently stepped down from the executive of Conservative Future, the official youth wing of the Tory party, accused the YBF of being out of step with today's young people.

"The Young Britons Foundation is trying to copy the Young Americans Foundation and the issues that they are dealing with in the US are very different to the issues that we face in the UK," he told Today.

"The sort of agenda they are pushing forward - tackling left wing bias on campuses - well I don't think that the campuses that the Young Britons Foundation are describing are the university campuses that the young people of today would recognise.

"It's the reactionary politics of the past and reactionary politics is no longer relevant in today's Britain."

But Mr Blaney accused Mr Hilton of being "part of the past", arguing that the current chairman of Conservative Future would be speaking - along with shadow home secretary David Davis - at YBF's activist training conference this week.




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