The week in higher education – 18 August 2016

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

August 18, 2016
The week in higher education cartoon (18 August 2016)

The University of Salford’s efforts to “match” with would-be students on Tinder attracted attention from The Daily Telegraph on 11 August. Ahead of A-level results day on 18 August, Salford set up two profiles on the popular dating app asking applicants to “start a lasting relationship with us this September”, adding that the “best partnerships start unexpectedly”. Not one to undersell its degrees, Salford also urged those from the instant hook-up generation to “swipe right to find the course of your dreams”, presumably hoping for long-term commitment rather than the one-night flings favoured by some Tinder users.

As the new Premier League season kicked off, one of its least-fancied sides has signed a sponsorship deal to promote its local university. Newly promoted Hull City announced its link-up with the University of Hull, which will see the Tigers wear university-branded training kit and display adverts for the institution on match days, ahead of beating champions Leicester City on 13 August. Hull’s Cottingham training ground will also bear the university’s name as part of the partnership to “promote the university and city on a global stage, engaging millions of potential students and partners”, according to the university’s marketing director, Anja Hazebroek. The vote of confidence in Hull City and the team's opening win follow a slightly chaotic build-up to its return to England’s top flight, following promotion via the play-offs in May. With the Tigers reduced to just nine fit outfield players at one point in pre-season, fans will be hoping that their club doesn’t also have to call on the local university for a striker or a central defender.

A 12-year-old whizz-kid is off to an Ivy League university this autumn, Teen Vogue reported on 11 August. Having aced his high school exams aged 10, Texas-born Jeremy Shuler will head to Cornell University, in New York, next month to study engineering with the aim of becoming an academic, the glossy magazine said. He hopes to complete his PhD by the ripe old age of 21, it added. Able to read in both English and Korean by the age of two, the son of two aerospace engineers started on his high school studies aged eight before moving on to online courses at his local university a few years later. “While this is highly unusual, we feel that with the strong support of his parents…he will be able to thrive as an engineering student and take advantage of all that Cornell has to offer,” said Lance Collins, the university’s dean of engineering, to campus paper Texas Tech Today

Gleeful University Challenge viewers took to Twitter to mock a team of brainboxes who were stumped by three easy questions about pop music of the 1980s, the Daily Mail reported on 10 August. The four contestants from Oriel College, Oxford, were unable to identify well-known songs by The Cure, The Clash and George Michael – with their woeful lack of pop knowledge causing host Jeremy Paxman to stifle a laugh, the paper said. “Shameful lack of pop music knowledge – what are these students doing with their time? Studying, probably,” commented one Twitter user, while another joked that the Oriel quartet were “philistines” for not recognising the oeuvre of British rock icons Robert Smith and Joe Strummer. Despite their embarrassing ignorance of the British pop canon, it was an otherwise good night for Oriel – beating the University of Manchester, one of the show’s most feared teams, by 105 points to 95.

The riddle of why the Olympic diving pool in Rio de Janeiro turned green overnight was bound to attract the attention of the world’s scientists. After Rio officials ruled out algae as a source of discolouration on 10 August, blaming a fall in alkalinity, chemists speculated that the pool’s higher temperature may have caused the problem. Others suggested that the pool had been “overshocked” with chlorine, which led to the formation of copper and iron oxides in the humid open-air conditions. “I would have been very embarrassed to have had this happen if I were running that pool,” Richard Gymer, a University of Cambridge scientist and a former volunteer pool technician, told Chemistry World on 11 August. The Royal Society of Chemistry publication also ruled out the popular theory of divers secretly urinating in the pool.

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