Date Name

‘Blame the poor, not Brexit’

A once respected national newspaper, desperate for clickbait, has resorted to some rather bizarre explanations for UK universities’ recent performance in international league tables. Andrew McRae kindly answered the call to take them to task.

‘Digital Intelligence’ for Higher Education

A recent post discussed the possible benefits of learner analytics for delivering a more personalised education. Now we have a broader view as The Chronicle of Higher Education provides an update on Educause, the huge US Education Tech Trade Show in which it is observed that everyone is talking about digital intelligence or education analytics.

‘Radical change’ is needed to reassure public on standards says THE

Follow up to earlier post on this topic. According to Times Higher Education: “‘Radical change’ is needed to reassure public on standards”. External examiners would be interviewed by inspection teams and universities would give a clear indication of the number of hours they expect students to study under plans to boost public confidence in the… read more

‘Wal-Mart U’ v ‘Harrods U’

Two new entrants into HE From the Chronicle of Higher Education an interesting story explaining that there might have been a Wal-Mart University: As the world’s largest retailer weighed its options for making a big splash in education, executives told one potential academic partner that Wal-Mart Stores was considering buying a university or starting its… read more

‘Seriously deficient’: or Whither London Met? or Where’s Willetts?

On Wednesday night the news broke at 10pm: the UK Border Agency confirmed the revocation of London Metropolitan University’s ‘highly trusted sponsor’ status. This means that London Met is no longer able bring in non-EU students into the UK to study under the ‘Tier 4’ visa scheme.

In fact, the move is more draconian in that such students currently studying at London Met will have their visas withdrawn: at least 2000 face deportation within 60 days of official notification, unless they can find another sponsor. Effectively they must find a place on another course at another institution.

By what extent is this disastrous episode a symptom of wider political and administrative failures? Last year’s HE white paper made it clear that the government was no longer prepared to act as the backer of last resort, perhaps making London Met’s situation even more precarious.

‘University of Nike’ in Oregon

A huge investment in university sport The New York Times has a report on the opening of a hugely expensive new facility to enhance the University of Oregon’s football programme. It comes courtesy of a sizeable donation from one of the founders of Nike. The Football Performance Center, which was unveiled publicly this week, is… read more

“Bogus students facing global crackdown”

Tackling “bogus” students According to the BBC, bogus students are facing a global crackdown. “Unscrupulous” recruitment agents who bring bogus overseas students into the UK are being targeted in an international initiative. The British Council has for the first time brought together countries including the UK, the US and Australia to try to keep out… read more

“Doubling foreign enrolments is ‘unbelievable’ aim”

So, are international student numbers set to double? According to Times Higher Education: English universities are relying on “unbelievable” plans to increase international student numbers by up to 100 per cent in four years as government policy leads to fears of volatility in home student numbers. Durham University plans for a 97 per cent increase… read more

“Drop the ‘mickey mouse’ degrees”

“Drop the ‘mickey mouse’ degrees” says head of Royal Society of Chemistry It’s silly season again. According to a blog post from Richard Pike of the RSC: ‘Mickey Mouse’ degree courses should be swept away, and priorities in university education and research should reflect the challenges facing the country over the forthcoming decades. No longer… read more

“Dysfunctional” universities

Extract from an article in the Chronicle India’s Prime Minister Assails Universities as Below Average and ‘Dysfunctional’ India’s prime minister revealed on Friday that almost two-thirds of the nation’s universities and 90 percent of its degree-granting colleges are rated as below average and that university curricula are typically not synchronized with the needs of employers… read more

“For-Profits Eye the British Market”

New opportunities for private providers The Chronicle of Higher Education has a good piece on the interest for-profit providers are taking in the UK market. Robert Lytle of the Parthenon Group, management consultants with an interest in education, seems a bit sceptical: “It’s a very expensive market to operate in, and the profitability is not… read more

“From hack to boffin”

Hack to boffin in six months? University seeks journalist Let us ignore the shorthand of “hack” and “boffin” here – it is a really good story… A university is hoping to turn a journalist from a hack into boffin in six months, opening its doors to give them an in-depth look at the world of… read more

“Green” University league table

The People and Planet “Green League” Another fun league table here but really makes all of the others look like models of objectivity and statistical rigour. From THE 1 Gloucestershire (last year 5th) 2 Plymouth (2) 3 UWE (8th) 4 Anglia Ruskin (8th) 5 Loughborough (38th) 5 Cambridge (8th) 5 Central Lancashire (50) 8 Leeds… read more

“Old-fashioned universities letting students down”

Moaners not Maoists According to the Guardian, David Willetts has said that old-fashioned universities are letting students down: Universities are badly failing students with unfit teaching and old-fashioned methods and will have to radically modernise lectures and facilities if they want to raise fees, according to the Conservatives’ spokesman on higher education. David Willetts told… read more

“Plagiarism up 700%” at University of Nottingham

Slight misinterpretation of non-comparable data According to a shocking report in Impact, which doesn’t let facts get in the way of a sensational story, plagiarism is up 700% at the University of Nottingham: The University of Nottingham has insisted that cheating is not skyrocketing among its students, following the emergence of figures which show a… read more

“Pressure grows” to replace league tables

“League tables should be replaced, says v-c” according to a recent article in THE. As an alternative to league tables it is proposed that comprehensive “quality profiles” be used instead of crude rankings. Chris Brink, vice-chancellor of Newcastle University, said assessments should ask if the university is “good at what it does”, rather than if… read more

“Title arousal” issues in German Education

Another German Minister with Doctoral Difficulties BBC News recently reported on German minister Annette Schavan having her doctorate withdrawn following accusations of plagiarism. This comes barely two years after another minister was found to have plagiarised parts of his dissertation. It’s a rather unhappy picture: A German university has voted to strip Education Minister Annette… read more

“Top employers cut graduate jobs”

According to BBC Education, at least But the survey quoted here reports a reduction in the number of vacancies compared to 2008 and a reduction against target: There is further evidence of a tough graduate jobs market with a survey showing vacancies down 13.5% on 2008. Research among the top 100 employers identified by graduates shows… read more

“Top scholars should lead research universities”

Top scholars should lead research universities: Review of fascinating new work in University World News. Research universities should be led by brilliant scholars and not merely talented managers, says Warwick University fellow Amanda Goodall. It is not sufficient for leaders to have management skills alone, Goodall states in a new book. In Socrates in the… read more

“Topsy-turvy ranking” in social science teaching

Research which challenges some league table views of teaching quality Times Higher Education has a piece on a detailed study of teaching of Sociology at a range of instututions which has some interesting results: Teaching in universities that are usually ranked towards the bottom of higher education league tables is more consistently of a high… read more

“Universities are crumbling”…

…according to a “secret database” The Guardian claims a bit of a scoop following a Freedom of Information request on building conditions in universities: Scores of university halls of residences and lecture theatres in the UK were judged “at serious risk of major failure or breakdown” and “unfit for purpose”, a secret database obtained after… read more

(It’s) Hard Labour?

Labour’s 2015 position on higher education policy – of all the three main political parties – is still probably the hardest to predict. But this is not necessarily because of the affordability of a £6k or even a £5k fee (the IPPR costed it at nearly £2billion up front – even more for a graduate tax – an awful lot to spend in a cash constrained election). Andy Westwood continues his series marking party conference season and takes a look at the state of Labour’s HE policy.