The Education Secretary has criticized universities for embracing "woke ideology" and called on them to uphold British values. The comments came after it was revealed that Bristol University had quietly removed the national anthem from its graduation ceremonies. Gillian Keegan, speaking on X, expressed her frustration, stating that universities should not give in to this ideology. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden also questioned whether institutions that were ashamed of their British heritage should continue to receive taxpayer funding.
Backlash against removal of national anthem
Bristol University faced backlash after it was discovered that they had stopped playing the national anthem at graduation ceremonies. The decision was made in 2020, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, it only came into effect last year. Previously, "God Save the King" was sung at every ceremony, but now it will only be performed if a member of the Royal Family is in attendance. Current students at Bristol University expressed mixed opinions, with some considering the anthem "old-fashioned" and "irrelevant," while others found it offensive.
Defending British values
Several politicians have criticized the university's decision, arguing that it is a sign of self-loathing and disregard for British traditions. Tory MP Scott Benton questioned how the national anthem could be deemed offensive, expressing frustration with institutions that cater to a small minority. The Education Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister both called on universities to stand up for British values and resist the influence of "woke ideology."
A spokesperson for Bristol University defended their decision, stating that they regularly update their graduation ceremonies.
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