Business

Elite UK education contributes to Brexit divides: study

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Elite universities such as Oxford and Cambridge dominate British society and create mistrust between the public and government that became exposed during the Brexit crisis, an official survey said yesterday.

Two-fifths of the British elite were privately educated— more than five times the population at large, said a study conducted jointly by the Government's Social Mobility Commission and the Sutton Trust education charity.

Graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities produced half of Britain's current diplomats and 71 per cent of senior judges.

Meanwhile, more than 40 per cent of Britain's 100 most influential newspaper columnists, journalists and media executives went through expensive private schools.

The figure was almost as large for cricketers, Cabinet staff and even rugby players.

The survey results reflect “a country whose power structures are dominated by a narrow section of the population”, the report said.

“The United Kingdom in 2019 is an increasingly divided nation.”

Analysts believe a range of factors contributed to UK voters' surprise decision to back a split from the European Union in a 2016 referendum.

The results are still being debated daily as the Government struggles to figure out how Britain can safely leave after 46 years of membership.

The process has been delayed twice already and Brexit is now scheduled for October 31.

Past studies have shown the Brexit vote diverging especially sharply depending on a person's level— and type— of education.

Elite university graduates more heavily backed staying in the EU. The levels of mistrust in governments as a whole were also higher among those who went to lower-tier universities.

Tuesday's survey recommended making diversity “a key issue across the whole of British society”.

“Data on the socio-economic background of employees should be collected and monitored by employers in the same way as gender or ethnicity,” one of the report's recommendations said.


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