“It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in the preface to Pygmalion in 1913.

Recent headlines suggest that accent prejudice (or “accentism”) is no relic of the past but continues to blight the university experience of many students.

The Cockney diaspora

A recent Guardian investigation rightly called out accentism faced by students from the north of England at elite universities across the country.

Discrimination against northern accents is a frequent topic in the news, but in research, accentism cannot be reduced to “south good, north bad”.

In fact, research has consistently shown that some of the most stigmatised accents in Britain are, in fact, spoken in south-east England – particularly in Essex.