Phi Beta Cons

Academics Got No Respect on Brexit

British academics were almost uniformly in favor of “Remain” when Britons went to vote on leaving the European Union last month.

  • More than 100 administrators of British colleges (mostly vice-chancellors) wrote an open letter urging a “Remain” vote.
  • Economists’ models (used by the Treasury Department) showed that each British family would lose $4,300 a year if the country left the EU.
  • A Times Higher Education poll just before the election found that 90 percent of university staff favored “Remain.”

But as Times Higher Education reports (on the Inside Higher Education site), those views were largely ignored. Michael Gove, a leader of the U.K. Independence Party, famously said, ”People in this country have had enough of experts.”

Now, the experts are trying to figure out what happened. Was it the anti-intellectualism of the voters? A matter of class? Distrust of the Establishment? Economists’ failure to predict the 2008 crash? Or poor use of social media?

All possible explanations are in the mix.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...


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