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Showing posts from January, 2020

Lost opportunities as BREXIT prevails and the European experiment dies

The last hour of today will mark the most significant and infamous event in the history of our nation-state. After repelling invaders and sacrificing much to free the rest of Europe from tyranny, we turn our backs on our nearest neighbours. The consequences will be far-reaching away from our shores as similar tensions rise elsewhere in Europe. The 75th Holocaust Memorial Day this week served as a stark reminder of what prejudice and xenophobia can, and did, lead to. We must be even more vigilant now and especially heed our young people who are trying to deliver a better future together. Rich or poor, they deserve to have the same equal opportunities that a generation before them were able to enjoy. Greed and exploitation should have no place in our society as the protections born out of the European experiment wither and die. Opportunities are born out of collaboration. Monday 9th May 2016 was Europe Day across the EU and a significant one before the UK referendum coming on 23

Inequalities, selective schools and a mudslinging storm in a bone china teacup

The debate about access to higher education for students with fewer advantages came to the fore today in the Observer. This is not an especially new idea or problem. However, it may emerge as a spurious reason to establish more selective grammar schools as a remedy. This might indeed help some and many advocate this approach. However, others offer counter evidence that refutes any real benefits. For those making decisions at the sharp end of poverty, the academic ‘mudslinging’ might seem distant and a storm in an expensive china teacup. However, serious mistakes could be made unless those sipping tea from tin mugs get involved and make their case. The Observer reported today the results of research carried out by academics at University College London (UCL) Institute of Education with  'Top universities ‘not being chosen by low-income students’ . Publis hed by the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance , and by authors from U niversity College London Inst

The postgraduate premium formula is not for all

The Scottish Funding Council is to be congratulated for releasing a report this week on the topic of access to postgraduate studies. It is first to recognise that there are barriers in the way of less advantaged students progressing. Also, this has a considerable knock-on effect on those students entering many careers and professions. However, it is disappointing that the opportunity to address the thorny issue of meagre student finance at postgraduate level was not taken. The system at postgraduate level is overtly middle class and biased. One can only conclude that this is a deliberate incentive for some and a deliberate barrier for others. The current formula is not very effective and even toxic to some student's aspirations. To foster the idea of social mobility and ‘levelling up’ this barrier must be removed. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has been very proactive in trying to promote the case for education in improving social mobility. It is in this context that the

Social mobility...... Is the microphone on?

A lot of attention has focused on the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. Much of it on the child-like speech by Donald Trump and his comments on the environment. This was effectively neutralised by the formidably eloquent seventeen-year-old Greta Thunberg in a mature speech that sought action not empty rhetoric. However, the WEF meeting addresses many other important issues behind the media stage. One of these is the deficit in ‘social mobility’ around the world. To inform those concerned, the World Economic Forum produced this week a report ‘Global Social Mobility Index 2020: why economies benefit from fixing inequality’ . Meanwhile, the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) also released its annual ‘Social mobility barometer poll results for 2019’ . It seems that the UK is far from leading in the world and is fast slipping back. There is much to do that will require greater and genuine resolve from the Government if they are listening. The global Social Mobility deficit.

Augar, Second Class Citizens and another review

Since posting the last TEFS Blog on Friday 17th January 2020, there have been three significant developments that are further reinforcing TEFS call for a comprehensive review of all university funding (TEFS 17th January 2020 ‘Student support and the research environment at universities’ ). “A fundamental review is needed. The promised report on the review of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) from 2018 has yet to emerge and its delay is concerning”. There is now an urgent need to pull all the strands of funding for our universities together and formulate a proper plan. Staff must have more stable careers and students must all get an equal chance to succeed. Neither aspiration matches the current situation that has developed in our universities across the UK. Casting the system into a false ‘free market’ defines a Government that is lacking in responsibility. To outsiders, it seems that the government is taking a piecemeal approach to funding. With the Brexit chaos continuing,

Student support and the research environment at universities: UPDATE

UPDATE 22nd January 2020. It seems that the toxic culture that infects our workplaces is not confined to universities and academia. There have been two more reports this week that further underline the wider impact of stress and bullying in the workplace in the UK. The results of a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that about a quarter of employees think their company turns a blind eye to workplace bullying and harassment. In the results of the survey of 2,211 employees, ‘Managing conflict in the modern workplace’ ( pdf file ), the words ‘bully’ or ‘bullying’ appears 109 times in the 47-page report. Over 50% of men and women said that they were " being undermined or humiliated in my job" . Also, fear of retribution is stopping the problem from being addressed. One noted that "Fear is the biggest factor," and that "You're singled out when something happens to you." I could add that I have observed colle