News in brief

March 14, 2013

Sexism on campus
Lad culture endemic: NUS study

More than half of female students experience “prevailing sexism, ‘laddism’ and a culture of harassment” at their universities, according to a survey by the National Union of Students. The report, That’s What She Said: Women Students’ Experiences of ‘Lad Culture’ in Higher Education, released on 8 March, International Women’s Day, found that nights out and sports teams were hot spots for “lad culture”, defined as a “pack” mentality and the use of sexist, misogynist and homophobic “banter”. Such behaviour could spill over into “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the NUS said. This included verbal harassment and “catcalling”, while some respondents said groping in nightclubs was part of a “normal” night out. The findings were based on interviews and focus groups with 40 women students in England and Scotland, carried out by University of Sussex academics.

UK university budgets
Outgoings up before incomings rise

Spending by English universities rose faster than their income did in the year before £9,000 tuition fees were introduced, while institutions again increased their reliance on fees paid by overseas students, the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show. Expenditure by English universities rose by 2 per cent to £22.2 billion in 2011-12, outstripping the 1.5 per cent rise in their income to £23.3 billion, according to Hesa statistics published on 7 March. The rise in spending included 0.8 per cent growth in staff costs (to £12.3 billion) and a 3.5 per cent hike in “other operating expenses” (to £8.3 billion). Scottish universities’ income rose by 0.4 per cent. They increased their spending by a lower margin than England’s universities, 0.8 per cent, and staff costs fell by 0.9 per cent. In Wales, income rose by 2.4 per cent while spending rose by 2.7 per cent. And in Northern Ireland, income grew by 1.2 per cent while spending fell by 2.8 per cent.

Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowships
Cash to aid ‘circular economy’

A fellowship award for postgraduate students at 10 universities worldwide including Cranfield University and Imperial College London is aimed at the promotion of a more “circular economy”, a school of thought that aims to increase the amount of financial and physical waste converted into resources. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, set up by long-distance yachtswoman Dame Ellen in 2010, has partnered with the Schmidt Family Foundation, a US charity created by Google chairman Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy, to launch the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship, an award worth £14,000 to each recipient. Fellows must be studying design, engineering or business at one of the institutions, and must also identify an academic from their university to oversee their work. The programme has funding for at least three years, and the number of fellowships will rise from 10 this year to 25 in 2014 and 2015.

Private student accommodation
UPP bond banks on bed and board

Student accommodation provider UPP has launched its first bond, backed by income from student residences at five universities. It is looking to raise £382 million against future revenues from accommodation projects at the universities of Kent, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Oxford Brookes and Plymouth. The bonds will pay out until up to 2047, UPP said. UPP financed earlier accommodation projects via bank loans, but Jon Wakeford, its director of strategy and communications, said the bond is a less expensive, longer-term method of financing infrastructure.

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