Archive for 19 February 2009

London club for NUI graduates re-opens to members

Posted in Life with tags , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“The London club for NUI (National University of Ireland) graduates has been relaunched six years after it was dissolved. The club, which has a rich and varied history dating back to the 1920s, was re-established at an event in the British capital this evening. Senator Joe O’Toole was the keynote speaker. The initiative to reform the club came from a group of UCC and UCD graduates who formed a committee last year with this specific objective. It has been well received by the Irish graduate community in London …” (more)

[Paul Cullen, Irish Times, 19 February]

Misrepresentation 101: Sexuality Courses Under Attack

Posted in teaching with tags , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“As a grad student in the humanities during an economic crisis, I feel that I’m constantly having to defend the ‘usefulness’ of what I do. The insinuation seems to be that because my chosen field doesn’t build houses, cure the sick and dying, or create vast sums of money, it isn’t as deserving of university funding. Public and private endowments should be funnelled into more ‘practical’ majors and fields, and frequently are. I could write a book (and indeed a lot of good books have been written) about how flawed this logic is, but instead I’d like to focus on the latest victim of the ‘usefulness doctrine’ – courses in queer theory and sexuality. Certain lawmakers in the state of Georgia, which is facing a $2.2 million budget shortfall, are outraged that tax dollars are being spent on state college courses whose subjects include queer theory and human sexuality. They seem most up in arms about courses that discuss oral sex and male prostitution …” (more)

[Adventures in Gradland, 19 February]

The Commodification and Deprofessionalization of the PhD

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“You see us in your departments. We look like you. We speak like you. We even teach many of the same courses you do. However, we garner less than half the pay for twice the work; take on the most onerous classes; get no health, unemployment, or retirement benefits; and go from term to term without assurance of continued employment or any employment at all. We are subject to intense financial pressure and instability. We have no ability to plan for or predict our future or that of our families or our (rental) homes. And, occasionally, just to remind us of our uncertain and ambiguous position, of which we are always fully cognizant, someone feels that they have to ‘put us in our place’ …” (more)

[Martin Mulford, Perspectives on History, February]

Report from UL protest February 2009

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“A protest was organised on February 16th in UL to greet senior Fianna Fail Minister Willie O’Dea who thought he could simply waltz onto our campus after his government recently announced major cutbacks in education and will soon try to impose college fees. Even though the Minister cancelled a few hours before the event an anti-fees rally was held in the SU courtyard which around 100 students attended. Considering that word only got out on Friday about the protest the turnout was very good. FEE was essential in building for the protest as we were the first to put up posters around campus and hand out leaflets telling people about the protest …” (more)

[Free Education for Everyone, 19 February]

‘iTunes university’ better than real-life lectures

Posted in teaching with tags , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“University students have got a new excuse to skip classes— podcast lectures. According to a new study, university students who download a podcast lecture achieve substantially higher exam results than those who attend the lecture in person. With Podcasted lectures, or ‘iTunes university’, the students can replay difficult parts of a lecture and take better notes. ‘It isn’t so much that you have a podcast, it’s what you do with it,’ New Scientist quoted Dani McKinney, a psychologist at the State University of New York in Fredonia, who led the study, as saying. Apple’s iTunes university was launched less than two years ago and offers college lectures on everything from Proust to particle physics to students and the public …” (more)

[, 19 February]

Ulster’s ring-fenced posts come under fire

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“A university’s attempts to provide job security by ring-fencing permanent posts for those on temporary contracts have been criticised. Amid concerns about excessive casualisation in higher education, the University of Ulster established a policy to give fixed-term staff first refusal of permanent posts. But according to an employee who raised his concerns anonymously, the policy meant vacancies could not be opened up to competition, so Ulster could not be sure it was getting the best candidates. ‘The consequence is to progressively lower the quality of teaching and research staff as they can only be replenished from within, often by low-calibre fixed-term staff unable to find employment elsewhere,’ he said …” (more)

[John Gill, THE, 19 February]

‘It’s hard to work in the UK, here there’s a fresh attitude’

Posted in research with tags , on 19 February 2009 by Steve

“Almost a year ago, Neil Turok announced that he was leaving the University of Cambridge, where he had worked alongside Stephen Hawking for 11 years, to move to Canada. He didn’t go quietly: as he left, he gave a scathing account of the problems blighting British academia in general and science in particular. But now that the professor of mathematical physics has settled into his new post as director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, based in Waterloo, Ontario, have his views of a sector throttled by red tape and hobbled by underfunding mellowed at all? The short answer is ‘no’. ‘It’s amazing to have come to a place that has such fresh attitudes, unencumbered with the history and tradition of the UK,’ Professor Turok said. ‘British science has become very project-oriented. You have to say, ‘in the next three years I am going to hit milestones one, two and three’ …” (more)

[John Gill, THE, 19 February]