The week in higher education – 25 June 2020

The good, the bad and the offbeat: the academy through the lens of the world’s media

六月 25, 2020

Staff returning to work at a US campus this summer may need to log any possible Covid-19 symptoms they are experiencing on an app being developed for potential use by academics and students. Business magazine Fast Company reported that Brown University will trial the app as part of a platform called Healthy at Work, which has been developed by tech firm Verily. The platform is aimed at organisations that want to help workers monitor their fitness to work amid the continuing pandemic. Brown will trial the platform over the summer with staff required to record symptoms with the app, which will then help them arrange a Covid-19 test if necessary. Some individuals will also be randomly assigned a test to catch those who are asymptomatic, according to the article. The system could be used for students too, although it is not clear when they might be included in any pilot.   

A university joining forces with a craft beer maker to offer bursaries to students may not sound like the best way of supporting learning, but a brewer in Scotland is launching such a programme next year aimed at improving BAME representation in its industry. According to a report in The Herald, Glasgow-based brewery Brewgooder is providing a bursary of £2,000 a year for students taking a course in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University. The company, a social enterprise that donates its profits to clean water projects abroad, will also offer work experience. Heriot-Watt has previous credentials in supporting BAME staff in the subject: Scotland’s first black professor, Sir Geoff Palmer, worked at its International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, according to the article. 

Students at a university in New Zealand will be able to sign up for a postgraduate course on marijuana from this month following the introduction of a scheme in the country that will allow for medicinal use of the drug. The Science of Medicinal Cannabis course at the Auckland University of Technology will look at the history of cannabis in New Zealand along with other topics such as its cultivation and processing, Metro reported. New Zealand brought in its Medicinal Cannabis Scheme on 1 April, allowing people to legally access cannabis-based products if they have a prescription. Course leader Ali Seyfoddin told New Zealand’s NewsHub site that education was “an important component of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis scheme and it’s essential that research and education providers provide courses for those wishing to enter the industry”.

Athletes at the University of Texas have demanded that the university ditch its anthem, The Eyes of Texas, which has been criticised for its links with minstrel shows. They are also applying pressure over the renaming of several campus buildings named after school officials with ties to its segregationist past. Students and athletes issued the requests following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent anti-racism protests, which have led to moves at a number of universities that call for links to racists and slavery supporters to be removed from campus: Clemson University recently took the name of former vice-president and slavery proponent John C. Calhoun off its honours college, while in the UK the University of Oxford’s Oriel College has finally voted to remove the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes after years of campaigns. Texas’ interim president Jay Hartzell said he would meet with student groups and would “work with the entire community to develop a plan to move the university forward”, ESPN reported.

A vicious intruder has invaded the University of New South Wales (UNSW) campus, wreaking chaos upon everyone it encounters. This time it is not the coronavirus, but a fox that has bitten three students. The students were attempting to pat the animal when the bites occurred, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. “I thought I could maybe help it, so I gave it a pat and he chomped my hand,” one student said. To add insult to injury the fox then “wandered away casually”. A UNSW spokesperson said the university was aware of “several separate incidents” of students being bitten by a fox while attempting to pat or feed it; one apparently thought it was a cat. However, not all the publicity has been negative: there have apparently been calls for Frankie – as it has been named – to become a UNSW mascot.

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who was shot and almost killed by the Taliban for promoting the right of girls to get an education, has completed her degree at the University of Oxford. The 22-year-old shared two pictures of herself covered in cake and confetti on social media after completing her philosophy, politics and economics degree. The youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner said she wanted “to express my joy and gratitude” and, although her life and experiences may seem miles away from your average graduate in the UK, her more immediate plans were not: “I don’t know what’s ahead. For now, it will be Netflix, reading and sleep,” she tweeted.



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