The great British university con

Posted in Governance and administration on August 22nd, 2019 by steve

“The UK’s reputedly world-class higher education sector has long been a source of pride and consolation for a diminished power. At first glance, universities have relentlessly expanded without any reduction in standards. Since 1990, the number of undergraduate degrees awarded has increased fivefold, while the proportion of Firsts granted has quadrupled …” (more)

[New Statesman, 21 August]


Women-only professorships

Posted in Governance and administration on July 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A chara, – The creation of 75 women-only professorships is a textbook example of how members of the higher socio-economic classes who have connections and influence in political and media circles can bend the the Government into making irrational and fiscally irresponsible decisions to their advantage, with all parties assuming the taxpayer will foot the substantial bill …” (more)

[Dave Slater, Irish Times, 25 July]

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‘Grade inflation’ means 80% more top degree grades

Posted in Teaching on July 11th, 2019 by steve

“The proportion of students in England awarded first-class degrees continues to increase – rising by 80% since 2010-11, the university watchdog says. The Office for Students, warning of grade inflation, says for almost three-quarters of universities such increases in top grades are ‘unexplained’ …” (more)

[Sean Coughlan, BBC News, 11 July]

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Unconscious Bias Training Isn’t a Magic Wand

Posted in Governance and administration on June 22nd, 2019 by steve

“This week saw a sober assessment of the impact – both positive but also depressingly negative – of schemes to improve gender equality. As the Athena Swan Review Group wrestles with how to improve their own awards, it is important to learn from mistakes as well as successes. In years gone by I spoke up for Athena Swan …” (more)

[Athene Donald’s Blog, 22 June]

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Making universities safe for trans people doesn’t threaten academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on June 20th, 2019 by steve

“Last Sunday a letter appeared in the Sunday Times attacking the LGBT charity Stonewall for its work with British universities as a threat to academic freedom. For context, a non-paywalled version of the text is available here. The letter was signed by some reasonably prominent figures …” (more)

[Chris Bertram, Crooked Timber, 20 June]

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The English Higher Education Funding Mess

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on June 3rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“One of the items that sneaked out in the news last week was the Augar report on the future of post-18 education and funding in England. A review led by a former equities broker was never likely to be friendly to the higher education sector, and so it seems to have turned out …” (more)

[In the Dark, 2 June]

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Graduate gets £60k payout over ‘false advertising’ claim

Posted in Legal issues on June 3rd, 2019 by steve

“A graduate who sued her university over her ‘Mickey Mouse’ degree has received a £60,000 out-of-court settlement. Pok Wong graduated with a first in international business strategy from Anglia Ruskin University in 2013 …” (more)

[BBC News, 2 June]


University counselling services ‘inundated by stressed academics’

Posted in Life on May 23rd, 2019 by steve

“Stressed out academics are inundating university counselling services as they grapple with heavy workloads and oppressive management, a report says. Referrals to such services had risen by three-quarters between 2009 and 2015, the study for the Higher Education Policy Institute indicated …” (more)

[Hannah Richardson, BBC News, 23 May]

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Should students be (financially) compensated for strike action by lecturers?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on May 22nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Regular readers of this blog will know that last year I was still employed part of the time at Cardiff University and during that period I was participating in strike action called by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) over pensions. As a result of that action students on my module on Physics of the Early Universe missed quite a lot of lectures (and I was docked a large fraction of my pay) …” (more)

[In the Dark, 22 May]

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Female authors listed on just 30% of recent UK academic research

Posted in Research on May 15th, 2019 by steve

“Women are listed as authors of just 30% of academic research from British universities, according to a major new ranking of higher education institutions. Although the number of women named as authors is gradually increasing, the slow pace was described by one expert as ‘disheartening’ …” (more)

[Dalmeet Singh Chawla, Guardian, 15 May]

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Universities told to refund half of students’ tuition fees for failing to make up missed lectures during strikes

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 14th, 2019 by steve

“Students should be refunded at least 50% of their tuition fees for lost teaching time by universities that failed to minimise the disruption caused by last year’s lecturer strikes, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator has said. The independent body which looks at complaints across higher education, said that was the ‘starting point’ for those affected …” (more)

[Eleanor Busby, Independent, 14 May]


My London history students’ knowledge of Ireland is, at times, shocking

Posted in Life on May 6th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“I am an Irish academic working in the UK, in the fields of Irish and British history. My perspectives on Brexit, Britain and Ireland are centred around universities and education, but I think many of my experiences would be similar to other Irish people in the UK …” (more)

[Joan Redmond, Irish Times, 6 May]

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NDAs: UK universities misusing ‘gagging orders’ described as ‘outrage’

Posted in Legal issues on May 5th, 2019 by steve

“Universities using ‘gagging orders’ to stop staff going public with claims of bullying or sexual misconduct is an ‘outrage’, according to a minister. Chris Skidmore said using non-disclosure agreements in this way risks the reputation of UK higher education …” (more)

[BBC News, 5 May]


Brexit: Theresa May says students ‘priced out’ of EU universities are better off in UK

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on May 1st, 2019 by steve

“Students ‘priced out’ of EU universities by higher fees after Brexit should stay in Britain and enjoy higher-quality courses, Theresa May says. The prime minister dismissed a protest that only rich children will be able to afford to study abroad in future by insisting no EU country could match the standards on offer at home …” (more)

[Rob Merrick, Independent, 1 May]

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Provost Patrick Prendergast said that applications to Trinity had decreased a further 20%, after last year’s drop

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 30th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Applications to Trinity from Northern Ireland have dropped by around 20% this year as a result of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, according to Provost Patrick Prendergast. This drop is on top of a 20% decrease in applications from Northern Irish students last year …” (more)

[Emer Moreau, University Times, 30 April]

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Archibald concerned at reported British government plans to increase EU student fees

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 30th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has expressed deep concern at reports that the British Government intends to remove home status fees for EU students to study in Britain from 2021. The party’s further and higher education spokesperson said …” (more)

[Sinn Féin, 30 April]

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Brexit: Guy Verhofstadt says EU ‘will never accept’ Theresa May’s plan to hike tuition fees for European students

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 29th, 2019 by steve

“The European Union ‘will never accept’ a move by Theresa May to raise tuition fees for EU students after Brexit, the European Parliament’s Brexit chief has said. Guy Verhofstadt said he would write to the prime minister following reports that EU students would be charged full international fees, instead of benefiting from the same rates as UK students as now …” (more)

[Jon Stone, Independent, 29 April]

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EU students could face higher fees to study in UK from 2020

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 28th, 2019 by steve

“Charging EU citizens full international student fees to study in England risks ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ after Brexit, higher education leaders and opposition parties have warned, calling on the government to clarify its policy …” (more)

[Richard Adams, Guardian, 28 April]

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Ministers McHugh and Mitchell O’Connor announce the opening of the Student Grant Scheme for 2019

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Student grant rules for eligible Irish students in UK higher education institutions and UK students in Irish HEIs remain as usual for 2019/20. The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD today announced the opening of the Student Grant Scheme for applications for the 2019/20 academic year and highlighted a number of improvements that will benefit some of the most disadvantaged students …” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 25 April]

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Queen’s second in UK for students officially changing their gender

Posted in Governance and administration on April 22nd, 2019 by steve

“Fifteen students at Queen’s University Belfast have requested to change their gender on official records. Almost 100 students across the UK’s top third-level academic institutions have done so at a time when universities are being accused of ‘disturbing’ failures to protect trans students from abuse …” (more)

[Claire McNeilly, Belfast Telegraph, 22 April]

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