Archive for 26 June 2009

NI student debt hits €130m high

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 26 June 2009 by Steve

UK“Student debt in Northern Ireland hit a fresh high as undergraduates take out government loans to help pay tuition fees, official figures showed today. The Student Loans Company lent £111.8 million (€130.5 million) last year for maintenance costs, an increase of almost 3per cent. More students are entering higher education and Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey is considering the future of student finance …” (more)

[Irish Times, 25 June]


Posted in teaching with tags , , on 26 June 2009 by Steve

Ireland“The UK National Union of Students has, amongst its key campaigns, one called ‘Mark my Words, not my Name’. This campaign is designed to persuade or cajole those higher education institutions not yet using anonymous marking for examinations and assessments to do so. The purpose of the campaign is to prevent bias, conscious or unconscious, on the part of examiners. For example, the NUS campaign asserts that there is evidence that students from ethnic minorities fare worse in examinations in those institutions where there is no anonymous marking, compared with those where there is. But even where such evidence cannot be found, the argument is that anonymous marking gives students greater confidence in the impartiality of the system …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 25 June]

Dispatch from Paris: French universities, dans la m… encore

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 26 June 2009 by Steve

France“Over the past several months, French academics have been facing a grave situation. The Sarkozy Government has proposed a reform of the universities that would put more power into the hands of the president of their university, and weaken the role of peer review. This reform will significantly affect the degree of autonomy of faculty teaching in universities. It is feared that university presidents will depend on their local protégés (who are often selected on political, instead of academic criteria) to make a number of important decisions that will affect the lives of faculty. Universalistic mechanisms had been put in place at the national level to prevent local favoritism and particularism. This system is now threatened from within …” (more)

[Michèle Lamont, Crooked Timber, 25 June]

The global geographies of stem cell research activity and policy

Posted in research with tags on 26 June 2009 by Steve

UK“Today’s Financial Times has a full page analysis (’An industry to grow‘) that examines aspects of state-society-economy relations with respect to stem cell research. The author, Clive Cookson (who also runs the Science Blog), deftly weaves five threads through the article: the role of the state in shaping a very geographically uneven development process; the role of key university-based researchers (like UW-Madison’s James Thomson) in spurring on innovation; the evolution of technology in shaping the research process and associated ethical debates; the evolving role of the private sector in fueling (or not) stem cell research and associated commercialization dynamics; and the factors shaping the actual and perceived temporal dimensions of stem cell research …” (more)

[GlobalHigherEd, 25 June]

Reading lists inspected for capacity to incite violence

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 26 June 2009 by Steve

UK“The reading lists of lecturers at the University of Nottingham’s School of Politics and International Relations are being scrutinised for material that is illegal or could incite violence. The institution has set up a ‘module review committee’, made up of teaching-group heads, to advise on academics’ teaching material. A document about the process explains that the reviews’ purpose is to provide feedback to staff on a range of issues, including the topics covered, the assessment methods used and ‘whether any material on reading lists could be illegal or might be deemed to incite people to use violence’ …” (more)

[Melanie Newman, Times Higher Education, 25 June]