News in brief

March 7, 2013

Office for Fair Access
Nine new faces in advisory dozen

The head of an Oxford college is one of nine new members of an advisory group on university access. Sir Ivor Crewe, master of University College Oxford, will sit on the 12-strong panel that advises Les Ebdon, director of fair access, on strategy and policy issues. Other new appointees to the Office for Fair Access group include Femi Bola, director of employability and student enterprise at the University of East London; Penelope Griffin, head of widening participation at the University of Nottingham; and Sarah Howls, head of student opportunity at the Higher Education Funding Council for England. They will join former National Union of Students president Aaron Porter; Lee Elliot Major, director of development and policy at the Sutton Trust; and panel chairman John Selby, former director (education and participation) at Hefce. Members are appointed for a fixed three-year term and are required to undertake up to six days’ work each year.

Mission groups
Staffordshire v-c to lead Million+

The vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University has been announced as the new chair of Million+. Michael Gunn replaces Michael Driscoll, vice- chancellor of Middlesex University, who has been acting chair since January. Professor Gunn, head of Staffordshire since 2011 and a former pro vice-chancellor at the University of Derby, said he “wholeheartedly” endorsed the organisation’s “unique focus on the wider interests of students, the economy and society”. He added: “The opportunity to study at university is also about the search for a more just and equal society. I am determined that this remains on the agenda.” Professor Driscoll has held the acting role since Patrick McGhee, former vice-chancellor of the University of East London, stepped down due to ill health.

Sports studies
Match fit for football glory

Wembley Stadium is to host 1,500 students studying football and sports administration as it becomes the second campus of UCFB, which already offers degrees in Burnley. The firm announced that 250 to 300 students will be admitted in 2014, with the total number enrolled rising to 1,500 within five years. The degrees, validated by Bucks New University, will include finance, international football business, law, sports psychology and stadium events management. UCFB’s Burnley campus currently teaches 350 students and offers degrees in football business and finance, football business and marketing, and football business and media.

TED Prize
Cloud-sourcing earns $1m boost

A professor of educational technology at Newcastle University has won a $1 million (£660,000) prize for his work teaching children from India’s slums how to use the internet. Sugata Mitra picked up the TED Prize, awarded by the California-based not-for-profit ideas network TED and given in the past to figures including Bill Clinton, Jamie Oliver and Bono. In 1999, Professor Mitra pioneered an experiment called “the hole in the wall”, which allowed Indian street children to use computers that were left accessible in public walls. He won the prize for submitting a “wish” that the TED network would help him build an online “School in the Cloud” in India, “where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online”.

Online now

Last week’s story about a research project on “grade grubbing” got people talking. “I am afraid I think this is only a secondary issue,” Larissa Fradkin@soundmatematics posted. “The very idea of grading needs to be questioned in a new environment, when teacher is not an authority figure any more but somebody who has to play to students and management.” Meanwhile, “At your own peril” had a neat solution. “If a student asks for a remark, make it perfectly clear that the mark is as likely to go down as it is to go up, since you are usually very generous the first time around.”

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