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Finally, some reasonably good news: the Higher Education Bill that Jo Johnson tried to push through got so many amendments that some rather positive ones slipped in as well:

1) The Haldane principle, stating that there should be no political interference in research funding, will become a law.

2) The different UK research councils will also keep their separate budgets, meaning that there will not be a centralized authority dashing out the funding.

3) The bill cannot be used to revoke a university's royal charter. Instead, such a move would require parliamentary scrutiny.

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'Education publisher Pearson reports biggest loss in its history'

"The profit warning was prompted by the collapse of its US higher education business, which is struggling with a decline in textbook sales and the transition to digital learning. The US business accounts for two-thirds of Pearson’s revenues and profits."

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The great teaching survey: asking university staff about teaching.

Lets turn this survey thing around and ask academics and university administrators about teaching, shall we? The results are a veritable treasure trove, so please read the (long!) article by yourself. I can only quote very selectively here.

We have N=1150, with 90% of all respondents being academics, the other admin staff. 85% of all respondents work in the UK.

Do academics actually want to teach?

Yes: "88% say that teaching is a source of satisfaction to them, with just 6% claiming that they are unhappy about having to educate students."

Is teaching a highly valued activity?

Erm, not so much: "55% of academics and 63% of administrators agree that research is valued more highly than teaching by their institution, while 30% of academics and 28% of administrators disagree."

What about the admin work?

The level of admin work is too damn high: "72% of academics and 62% of professional and support staff say that there is too much of it."

And the students are all fine, right?

No: "52% [of academics] say that students turn up for class without having done the required reading, with less than a quarter 24% deeming their students well prepared. [...] 48% and nearly as many administrators and professional staff (43%) do not think that students are well prepared for university study by their schooling, while just 28% of academics and 38% of administrators believe that students have a good grounding for higher study."

So standards are slipping, right?

Not really: "33% of academics and 29% of administrators believe that assessment standards at their institution are slipping, 45% of academics and 48% of administrators disagree."

What about student surveys?

They are shite: "just 7% of academics and 10% of administrators agree that [scores in student surveys reflect teaching quality]. In contrast, 82% of academics and 71% of administrators believe that it does not."

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A great show of British values: deporting a student three months before graduation.

We now start to understand what "take back control" really means.

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Perverse Incentives and Replication in Science
Here's a depressing but all too common pattern in scientific research: 1. Study reports results which reinforce the dominant, politically correct, narrative. 2. Study is widely cited in other academic work, lionized in the popular press, and used to advance...

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Another academic "mistakenly detained".

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Is academia a happier life than a life in industry?

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Two-year degree courses, with higher fees

So the idea floated by the UK government is to cram all teaching of a 3-year degree course into two years, but charge students overall the same amount of money as for a full 3-year course.

The appeal to students: graduate faster, less money spent on housing etc.

I can see how we can iterate that a couple of times. Maybe I should open up my own university.

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Demographics of UK academic staff

Lets put it this way: 71% of all staff employed at UK universities are UK nationals. The others aren't.

The percentage of UK nationals drops to 58% in engineering and 62% in maths/physics/biology.

See you all on the ferry, mates!
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