Less than a quarter of the public supports "decolonising" the curriculum, a report has found.

Just 23 per cent of people in England believe that universities should actively remove material in university courses which reflects a "western dominated view of the world", according to research by the UPP Foundation and Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi).

Almost a third (31 per cent) are against decolonising the curriculum and another third (33 per cent) neither agree nor disagree.

It comes after MPs demanded that the Education Secretary suspend taxpayer funding of Advance HE and launch an investigation as they warn the organisation is limiting free speech on campus.

They say the organisation’s practises – such as rewarding universities for “decolonising” their curriculum – further an agenda which “compromises academic freedom and free speech”.

The survey, of more than 2,000 adults in England, found there was far more support for broadening the curriculum to take in people, events, materials and subjects from across the world, more than two in three (67 per cent) of the public said they approved and just 4 per cent against.

Richard Brabner, director of the UPP Foundation, said universities sometimes appear to be at the centre of a "never-ending culture war".

He added: "But as our polling shows, the way we talk about contentious issues, such as decolonisation, can narrow or broaden appeal. This is an important lesson. There are gaps in support for the sector based on voting intention, age and class. If these gaps widen, universities will face a difficult future.

"To grow public support, we need to demonstrate our worth to people who do not typically engage with universities – that means adopting approaches which persuade. Linking our actions to their values."

The survey suggests that demand for studying a degree remains high, with nearly half saying they would want to attend university if they were leaving school now.

Just over a quarter of the public said they would not opt for higher education if they were leaving secondary school now, but most parents said they want their children to go to university.

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