Oxford Uni chief 'embarrassed' to count Michael Gove as former student

Oxford University chief says she is ’embarrassed’ to count Michael Gove as one of the famed institution’s former students over his Brexit comments that ‘people have had enough of experts’

  • Prof Louise Richardson said she is ‘embarrassed’ Michael Gove is an alumnus
  • Vice-chancellor of Oxford made comments in a talk on campus cancel culture
  • Footage of Mr Gove, 54, dancing in an Aberdeen nightclub surfaced this week

The vice-chancellor of Oxford University is ‘embarrassed’ to call Michael Gove a former student.

Professor Louise Richardson suggested the Tory Cabinet minister would not be welcome among her list of alumni.

She made the comments in a talk in which she also called for more ‘ideological diversity’ in universities and claimed there needed to be more open debate.

The contradictory statements were made during an appearance at the World Academic Summit, where she addressed the cancel culture on campuses.

The vice-chancellor of Oxford University is ‘embarrassed’ to call Tory Cabinet minister Michael Gove, 54, a former student. Pictured: Gove dancing at a Scottish nightclub on Saturday

Professor Richardson singled out Mr Gove while taking a swipe at those who had seemingly questioned academia’s contribution to society.

She said she was ‘embarrassed to confess we educated’ him given his famous comments during the Brexit campaign that people had ‘had enough of experts’.

She continued: ‘Well [with] the [Oxford-AstraZeneca] vaccine it seems the public can’t get enough of experts. Many of our scientists have become household names.

‘We have demonstrated through the vaccine work… just how much universities can contribute.’

Times Higher Education, which ran the event, reported she also admitted that universities are seen by some as ‘bastions of snowflakes’ who are offended easily. 

Professor Louise Richardson (pictured) made the comments in a talk where she also addressed the cancel culture on campuses and called for more ‘ideological diversity’ in universities

This comes as footage of Mr Gove surfaced this week of him him waving his arms and dancing while dressed in a suit in an Aberdeen nightclub. In the videos, Gove, dressed in a suit with no tie, can be seen jumping, two-stepping and waving his arms around to the music

It is making non-graduates think ‘their taxes are paying for these utterly over-privileged students who want all kinds of protections that they never had’, she added. 

To tackle this, ‘we need more ideological diversity in our universities, we need to foster more open debate on controversial subjects’, Professor Richardson said.

‘We need to teach our students how to engage civilly in reasoned debate with people with whom we disagree powerfully because, unless we do that, we are going to lose the public argument.’

Her comments were picked on by critics, who pointed out diversity of thought should include views that are Conservative or critical of academia.

An Aberdeen native, Gove appeared to be enjoying a night on the tiles in his hometown following news last month that he and his wife of 20 years, columnist Sarah Vine, are to divorce

Former Government education adviser Chris McGovern said: ‘The vice-chancellor is stating the opposite of the truth with great confidence and worrying certainty. The lights are going out in our education system and this generation of young people will not see them lit again.’

It is not the first time Professor Richardson has singled out Mr Gove. In a 2017 lecture she referred to him as ‘educated at my university, sorry’.

Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, faced embarrassment this week after footage surfaced of him waving his arms and dancing while dressed in a suit in an Aberdeen nightclub. 

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