The Week in Higher Education

五月 1, 2008

  • The fall-out over academics' complaints that their research at the British Library is being hampered by the decision to admit undergraduate students continued in the pages of the Evening Standard on 23 April. "What arrogance Lady Antonia Fraser shows in suggesting that the British Library's facilities should be open to her but not to undergraduate students," said D. Cittern in a letter. But Wendy Creed, another letter-writer, said: "I understand the frustrations of Fraser and others who feel their valuable time is compromised by high-spirited students, but sometimes older readers show as little consideration for their fellow researchers."
  • The Independent, on 24 April, became the first of the national newspapers to publish its version of the annual round of university league tables. Oxford topped the table, pushing Cambridge to second place and "re-gaining the pole position that it occupied for five consecutive years". The Independent's Good University Guide is compiled by Bernard Kingston, described by the newspaper as "the grand old man of university league tables", who ended a longstanding relationship with The Times newspaper last year. Strong performances were recorded by Durham (up to sixth place), Lancaster (10th), York (11th) and Leicester (12th).
  • On 25 April, the newspapers were dominated by coverage of the first teachers' strike to hit schools for more than 20 years. The NUT was joined by 30,000 further education college lecturers from the University and College Union, who went out on strike in support of their demand for a 6 per cent pay rise.
  • "Harry Potter has taken his place alongside such greats of English literature as Shakespeare's Hamlet and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and is required reading for A-level English students," reported the Mail on Sunday on April. J. K. Rowling's "boy-wizard" has been added to the syllabus as a set text by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), the UK's biggest exam board, "in a move that has prompted fresh claims of 'dumbing down' in education standards". This was followed up in Monday's papers, under headlines such as: "Potter in test row" (Daily Mirror); "A level for Harry Swotter" (The Sun); and "Wizard A level is potty" (The Star).
  • Several papers reported on a survey from the Sutton Trust on 28 April, which said that "four in ten teenagers say that they are getting little or no information about going to university from their teachers and schools" (The Times). The Sun reported the survey's findings that "record numbers of teens have their sights on university - despite fear of student debts". Nearly three in four want to go to university, the paper reported, the highest level in five years.
  • On 29 April, The Guardian published a piece by former University of Oxford PhD student Doron Shultziner under the headline, a "nightmare in dreaming spires". Dr Shultziner argued that "the Oxford apparatus remains in urgent need for reform for the sake of its students" and said that it was questionable whether the university "deserves its excellent students".
  • "A university lecturer is behind bars after swindling one of his students out of £15,000 in a sophisticated investment scam," the Newcastle Journal reported on 29 April. "Majid Taghavi was a respected member of staff in the economics department at Northumbria University when he duped fellow Iranian Mehdi Moalemi into handing over money he had been saving for his daughter's education," the paper said. Dr Taghavi, who had a gambling addiction and has resigned from the university, admitted obtaining a money transfer by deception and unauthorised promotion of a business activity. He was jailed for 12 months.

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