Thursday 12 January 2017


Starting with the bold exclamation quoted in the title of this post, Number 88 at Biased BBC has spotted an absolutely astonishing pair of contrasting reports about a special away-day session at the University of Oxford held by Parliament's Education Select Committee. 

He has in mind the respective accounts from the BBC and the Daily Telegraph, and I'd urge you to read both of them back-to-back.

Number 88 is not wrong when he writes:
MSM reporting of the proceedings is diametrically opposed and the differences in the account of the evidence given by this man, Professor Alistair Buchan, who is in charge of Oxford’s Brexit strategy, is quite startling. Were the reporters at the same meeting?

...Professor Buchan presents a positive take on Brexit to MPs, saying the Brexit will bring the best and the brightest to the UK and that the EU held back such people from the likes of Canada, Australia and the U.S. It might help to revive English-speaking medicine. 

According to the Telegraph's Harry Yorke, the academics at the session looked to a global view post-Brexit, though towards the end of the article he reports that the Oxford academics said that a 'hard Brexit' that ends freedom of movement could be damaging to the UK's role in the educational world.

In contrast, the BBC's version is wholly negative about Brexit...

...and begins with that very 'warning' about a 'hard Brexit', saying:
...that the MPs heard an unrelenting message that leaving the EU was a grim prospect for higher education and research.
And this BBC piece by Sean Coughlan is certainly "unrelenting" in its "message". 

Nothing good is said about Brexit by any of the contributors in his account and all the positive stuff from Professor Buchan & Co. (as reported by the Telegraph) is simply absent from the BBC's gloomy report.

Indeed, Professor Buchan is now cast as one of the "unrelenting" Brexit gloom-mongers by the BBC reporter: 
Showing how seriously they take this, Oxford University has appointed its own head of Brexit strategy.
So you could say that at least Brexit has already created one extra job.
But this new postholder, Professor Alistair Buchan, saw leaving the EU as threatening to relegate the UK's universities behind their global competition.
Oxford has been ranked as the world's top university, but Prof Buchan said that in 1970s the UK's universities did not have that top status. This had been built through the EU years and growing networks of international partnerships.
He described Brexit for universities as the "Manchester United problem".
Why would any football team with international ambitions deliberately want to restrict its access both to better talent and to bigger markets? 
The Telegraph also cited Professor Buchan's "Manchester United problem" but, whereas the BBC casts it in a negative light, the Telegraph casts it in a positive light...

...and, by actually quoting him much more extensively than the BBC, suggests that the professor really did mean it positively:
In stark contrast to other leading figures in the sector - many of whom remain party to the Universities UK against Brexit campaign - Professor Buchan also compared Britain's situation to that faced by Manchester United.
"This a Manchester United problem isn't it? The idea that Manchester Utd would not recruit players and wouldn’t have fans and wouldn’t play abroad really means that we have got to do three things. We have got to be absolutely sure we are open; every student and every staff member that comes to Oxford is a benefit for this country because we recruit quality, people that play in the top league.
"We now have to start figuring out what's possible in order to look at the benefits rather than what's being taken away."
Now, having not been at the session, I can't know whether the Telegraph is giving us a misleading pro-Brexit spin or whether the BBC is giving us a misleading anti-Brexit spin - or (as I suspect) both of them are spinning the story in their own preferred direction. 

The contrast, however, is truly staggering, isn't it?

And Sean Couglan certainly appears to have 'edited out' all of the positive things said about Brexit by Professor Buchan and to have given an anti-Brexit twist to his Manchester United analogy. 

The BBC man's bias seems to be showing here, doesn't it?


  1. The BBC and Oxford U not quite clicking across the board today.

  2. Note the BBC keen to tell us that Oxford has been ranked as the world's top university but failing to mention that was a while ago. We're still in the wonderful EU which it credits for this university ranking achievement. So what happened, BBC?

  3. I think (unfortunately) that they are both right. It depends on which elements you take from the report.
    The BBC choose the overwhelming (as would be expected from the universities elites) pessimistic view. Whereas the Telegraph choose to highlight some of the more optimistic views mainly from Buchan.

  4. Both have obviously emphasised the elements that agree with their brief. The difference between the two is that the Telegraph often has anti Brexit articles and in any event is not required to be impartial. The BBC on the other hand is entirely anti Brexit.

  5. Unfortunately for the BBC the people who are interested in news and politics are now using the internet (and sites such as this) as one of their major sources of information and interpretation and are less reliant on the BBC. For those not really interested, the BBC is an irrelevance so they are losing both ways.


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