Labour is the party of choice for university and college lecturers, with the Liberal Democrats beating the Conservatives into a poor third place, according to a new poll commissioned for The Times Higher Education Supplement.
Coming less than a month after a poll of teachers discovered that Labour had a towering 38-point lead over the Liberal Democrats, with the Conservatives a poor third, the findings suggest that 18 years of Tory education policies have left professionals demoralised and disillusioned.
Almost three-quarters of college lecturers plan to vote Labour.
The THES poll, carried out by ICM, shows the Conservative party has suffered a 7 per cent fall in support since 1992 and now commands only a 10 per cent share of lecturers' votes. Labour support was up 7 per cent to 64 per cent from a similar pre-election poll in 1992, while Lib Dem support remained constant at 21 per cent.
Last month's research for the National Union of Teachers, also by ICM, put Labour on 59 per cent, the Lib Dems on 21 per cent and the Conservatives on 15 per cent.
A growing number of lecturers (69 per cent) now believe that the increase in student numbers is leading to lowered education standards, a substantial increase (26 per cent) over 1992 when fewer than half (43 per cent) believed this policy lowered standards.
This view is most strongly held by university lecturers, Labour supporters and those in the science, engineering and business departments. Lecturers tend to feel that the expansion of universities has been taken far enough. Over half (59 per cent) think that the expansion should be halted against one third (34 per cent) who believe it should continue.
ICM interviewed a random sample of 500 lecturers, 100 at further education and 400 in universities by telephone between March 5-12.
FE FOCUS POLL, page 25