The week in higher education - 3 October 2013

October 3, 2013
  • “Bad boy” footballer Joey Barton has started a philosophy degree at the University of Roehampton, The Independent reported on September. The 31-year-old midfielder, who is back with Queens Park Rangers after a season on loan to Marseille following a 12-match ban for violent conduct, announced his entry into higher education to his 2.3 million Twitter followers on 26 September. “Off to my first lecture this afternoon. Eyes peeled, ears open, brain engaged,” tweeted the enthusiastic fresher. Barton is well known for quoting Friedrich Nietzsche on his travails within football, but woe betide any student who starts an argument with him about postmodernism and the deconstruction of Twitter posts in the union bar.
  • Parents have started laying bets on which class of degree their children will achieve, The Sunday Times reported on 29 September. Hundreds of parents have had a flutter on their offspring’s final-year result using a new betting service launched by bookmaker Ladbrokes last week, the paper said. Currently limited to £10, but likely to increase if the scheme takes off, wagers can be placed by the friends and family of any fresher at 20 universities, including Cambridge and Edinburgh. With snooker players and cricketers having been kicked out of their sports recently over gambling controversies, could campus spot-fixing of degree results give rise to the next big betting scandal?
  • A Milton Keynes-based business school is seeking £2 million in compensation from Harvard University after the Ivy League institution asked it to change its name, the BBC News website reported on 30 September. The elite US institution is suing Havard School of Management and Technology in the High Court over alleged copyright infringement, claiming that there is “evidence of confusion” between the two establishments. Havard founder Tina Beloveth Powerful said she was “taken aback” when the American university pointed out the similarity. “I never thought about Harvard [in America], [it] has nothing to do with the name,” said Ms Beloveth Powerful, who said she named the college after her grandfather. She is now asking for £2 million compensation from Harvard for the time she spent setting up the college, which, according to its website, runs courses in business, computing, management, accountancy and travel, tourism and hospitality, predominantly for students from overseas, although it would not reveal how many are currently enrolled. The case will be heard in February 2014.
  • Wales famously boasts the longest place name in the UK – an Anglesey village spanning 58 letters. Now it must surely take the same prize for the longest name of any UK higher education institution. From this week, the institution formerly known as Swansea Metropolitan University – or Swansea Met – officially became University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea. As if that wasn’t long enough, the institution is dubbed “Swansea’s Metropolitan University” below the official title, while the name is also translated into Welsh on the university’s masthead. The name change follows the merger of several institutions last year, spearheaded by the now-departed Welsh education secretary Leighton Andrews.
  • Battle lines have been drawn after the Daily Mail accused Ed Miliband’s Marxist scholar father Ralph of having “hated Britain”. Written on 28 September by poison pen specialist Geoffrey Levy, the article quotes the diary of a 17-year-old Ralph, a Jewish refugee who later became a lecturer at the London School of Economics, in which he laments that the “Englishman is a rabid nationalist…you sometimes want them almost to lose [the Second World War]”. Ed Miliband hit back in the Mail on 1 October, pointing out that Levy had neglected to mention his father’s part in the D‑Day landings, adding “something has really gone wrong when [the Mail] attacks the family of a politician”. The Mail stood by its piece, though many left-wing Twitter users, including former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, noted that the great-grandfather of the paper’s current owner – Viscount Rothermere – had penned an editorial praising fascist Oswald Mosley in the 1930s, headlined “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”.

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