Midwifery degrees starting this month will teach students how to look after ‘pregnant people’ and ‘birthing parents’, rather than ‘women’.
The courses, which train midwives for the NHS, have replaced references to mothers with ‘gender neutral’ language to accommodate trans people.
Several degree courses starting this autumn have used the ‘inclusive’ language on their websites or in course materials. However, critics said it risked dehumanising women and reducing them to ‘bodies’ which give birth.
At the University of Bradford, an internal document detailing the course specifications for the 2022/23 year refers to ‘childbearing people’ four times and ‘birthing people’ eight times.
In contrast, the word ‘women’ is mentioned just three times in the 11-page document, while ‘mother’ is not mentioned at all.
At Cumbria University, all references to mothers on the course description for students starting in 2022/23 have been replaced with ‘birthing parents’.
Confusingly, Northumbria University’s course beginning in January tries to provide a new definition for the word ‘midwife’, which has been used since the Middle Ages.
At the University of Bradford (pictured), an internal document detailing the course specifications for the 2022/23 year refers to ‘childbearing people’ four times and ‘birthing people’ eight times
It states: ‘“Mid Wif” means “with woman” and this has underpinned the relationship between midwives and pregnant people for hundreds of years. The term “pregnant woman” is commonly used across the world, and in evidence-based guidance for maternity care, to refer to all childbearing people.’
It adds: ‘You will leave this midwifery degree as a confident graduate who is able to lead the midwifery care of childbearing people.’
The midwifery course pages at Kingston and Cardiff universities also talk about ‘birthing people’ and ‘pregnant people’ respectively, although they do also mention ‘women’.
A spokesman for campaign group Woman’s Place UK said: ‘Pregnancy and birth are experiences that are unique to women. Phrases such as “birthing people” and “childbearing people” reduce women to bodies whose sole function is to carry and give birth to babies.
‘It is imperative that educators and teaching materials use accurate, sex-based language that humanises women under their care. Especially when maternity services are stretched and outcomes are so variable.’
At Cumbria University (pictured), all references to mothers on the course description for students starting in 2022/23 have been replaced with ‘birthing parents’
Northumbria University’s course beginning in January tries to provide a new definition for the word ‘midwife’, which has been used since the Middle Ages – ‘Mid Wif’
Last year, Bradford joined the controversial Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme, which gives advice on how to be more inclusive of LGBT+ people. A spokesman said at the time there was a ‘commitment as a university to be vocal allies of the LGBT+ community.’
Cardiff, Northumbria and Kingston are also members, as is the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which provides accreditation for midwifery degree programmes.
Last year, 460 nurses wrote to the NMC, demanding it leave the scheme, warning it ‘risks harming the reputation of the profession’.
In June, the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists were criticised for an ‘inclusivity’ statement claiming that sex is ‘assigned’ at birth, rather than observed.
A Bradford spokesman said: ‘The new BSc (Hons) Midwifery programme was written with serious consideration of information from the Nursing and Midwifery Council, The Royal College of Midwives and Birthrights around the use of inclusive language. It is important our students are taught in an environment that is consistent with national guidelines.’
Northumbria University said: ‘While the vast majority of people who are pregnant and give birth will identify as women, we ensure that our programmes acknowledge that students may provide care for those who may not… This is in line with information set out in the NMC standards of proficiency for midwives.’
Kingston declined to comment. The other universities were contacted.
Cultural revolution turning universities into factories of woke indoctrination
Commentary by Professor Frank Furedi
A new breed of cultural Taliban has taken over higher education in the UK. Under the banner of ‘decolonisation’, they seek to turn our universities into indoctrination factories churning out woke students.
Their determination to ‘decolonise’ has little to do with Empire or the colonies any more. Rather, it is a warped ideology – and so widespread that it is in danger of undermining every university degree course on the grounds that they are all imbued with racist and Western values.
Even the most unlikely technical and scientific subjects have become targets of the crusade. Who would have imagined that lecturers in the department of dentistry at Newcastle University would attempt to decolonise their degree course? How does the department of mechanical engineering at Sheffield University go about decolonising our understanding of thermodynamics?
As the Daily Mail revealed yesterday, Edinburgh University recently hosted a lecture titled ‘Decolonising the physics curriculum’.
Not wishing to be left out, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, announced plans to ‘decolonise’ science and maths degrees in June 2021.
Edinburgh University (pictured) hosted a lecture in March titled ‘Decolonising the physics curriculum: starting with thermodynamics
The description of a module at Exeter University on ‘decolonising medicine’ tells undergraduates they will investigate ‘the extent to which science and medicine…have been largely founded on colonialism, oppression, slavery, discrimination and injustice’.
This could all be dismissed as absurd if it were not so insidious. Institutions across this country are now succumbing to puerile and knee-jerk self-flagellation for the supposed sins of the past – even though it is academically ludicrous to draw any equivalence between modern-day morals and those of earlier centuries.
The truth is that this project of decolonisation aims to render toxic every dimension of Western art and culture. It wishes to devalue the legacy of our history and present it through a negative light. All its great, inspiring figures, from Chaucer to Shakespeare through to Jane Austen face the charge of being ‘too Western’, ‘too white’ or ‘too racist’.
And what is so terrifying is that these cultural vandals are actually succeeding in imposing their anti-British curriculum on our seats of learning. Not least because the managers who run the universities have been enthusiastic collaborators. These days you would struggle to get an academic post if you failed to show enthusiasm for the decolonisation project.
Just recently one of my academic colleagues arrived for a job interview at a Scottish university. The first questions she was asked referred to her views about diversity and decolonisation. After she hesitated to demonstrate full support for the party line her interview was cut short.
When an interview for an academic job turns into a political interview you know that higher education is in big trouble. It leads to a situation like the one revealed in the Mail today where a lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire claims in a new study that efforts to improve vocabulary and promote standard English in schools are ‘racist, classist and ableist’.
The description of a module at Exeter University (pictured) on ‘decolonising medicine’ tells undergraduates they will investigate ‘the extent to which science and medicine…have been largely founded on colonialism, oppression, slavery, discrimination and injustice’
So, even though the bulk of teachers say at least 40 per cent of their pupils lack the vocabulary to do well in lessons, any attempt to address this deficiency is seen as racist. The decolonisation movement exhibits many of the features of the Chinese Communist Party’s Cultural Revolution. One of the aims of the Great Cultural Revolution was to mobilise young people to loathe their ancestors and to purge the past from their influence. In the case of the Chinese Cultural Revolution the purging of the past was promoted on the grounds that it was essential for the realisation of Communism.
British university bureaucrats justify the war against the nation’s historical figures in the name of their sacred principle of diversity.
In diversity’s name even someone as central to the development of modern science as Isaac Newton – who discovered the laws of gravity and motion and invented calculus – is retrospectively humiliated.
A leaked copy of the ‘draft inclusive curriculum development’ to ‘decolonise’ the engineering curriculum at Sheffield University last year warned that Newton may have benefited from ‘colonial era activity’. To put matters right, the engineering faculty undertook to tackle ‘long-standing conscious and unconscious biases’ among students and challenge ‘Euro-centric’ and ‘white saviour’ approaches to science and maths, and promote ‘inclusive design’.
A leaked copy of the ‘draft inclusive curriculum development’ to ‘decolonise’ the engineering curriculum at Sheffield University (pictured) last year warned that Newton may have benefited from ‘colonial era activity’
That’s another way of saying that British students and researchers must feel guilt and show their loathing for many of the founders of the science they are studying.
The lecturers at Sheffield who were happy to trash the reputation of perhaps our greatest scientist in Newton must know full well that doing so has nothing to do with academic education.
Its sole aim is to distance students from their nation’s past and to make them feel that there is something morally corrupt about their discipline. It is only a matter of time before individuals like Louis Pasteur, Michael Faraday or Albert Einstein become the target of this philistine revolution.
In recent years, historically illiterate diversity entrepreneurs have come for virtually every leading figure of the Western Enlightenment – the movement through which the Age Of Reason developed in the 17th and 18th centuries and which led to so much greater an understanding of the universe.
Hypocrisy is commonplace among these campaigners. Indeed, virtually every great philosopher who contributed to the development of the ideals of freedom and liberty has become a target of their crusade. The complexities and nuances of society and history are ignored, academic brilliance discarded. And don’t imagine for one moment that the movement is done with its work. It has powerful friends in officialdom and sections of the political class.
If we are to save our universities, it is vital that we resist the baleful march of the new cultural Taliban.
Frank Furedi is emeritus professor of sociology at Kent University and author of The Road To Ukraine