Stress, pay, UKBA: our most read stories of 2012 revealed

Academics’ pay and stress levels featured prominently in the ten most popular Times Higher Education news stories of 2012.

December 31, 2012

Online readers also avidly followed a series of stories about universities banned from recruiting international students by the UK Border Agency.

But there was at least some light relief from an article that uncovered the more unusual excuses students gave for not having done their work on time – including one who was being kept awake by a ghost.

In ascending order, the ten most read stories of 2012 were:

10. Proportion of academics with PhDs is 'low'

The tenth most popular THE story of 2012 came in November, with news that just 45.7 per cent of academic staff appeared to possess a doctorate, according to a study by Malcolm Tight, professor in higher education at Lancaster University.

9. Aberdeen looks to feather its nest in a field dubbed 'pure quackery'

The University of Aberdeen was considering whether or not to establish a chair in “integrative health care and management” funded primarily by an anthroposophical clinic, THE reported in April. The following month it decided against establishing the post.

8. Students' tales of the unexpected

Ghosts, erupting volcanoes and the outbreak of civil war were some of the stranger excuses offered by students who failed to submit work on time, THE reported in August.

7. Russell Group expansion leaves 1994 Group short

In March it was announced that the universities of Durham, Exeter, York and Queen Mary, University of London, would leave the 1994 Group and join the Russell Group of large research intensive institutions.

6. National Student Survey - Key information may not unlock choice

Including student satisfaction scores in Key Information Sets is unlikely to influence students’ university choices but could heap additional pressure on academics to improve results, THE reported in September.

5. Teesside licence suspended as UKBA cracks whip

Teesside University’s Highly Trusted Sponsor status was suspended in early February after the UK Border Agency identified what were thought to be "administrative issues" with its recruitment of overseas students. Its status was restored in May.

4. Advert for unpaid research position withdrawn

In June THE reported that the University of Birmingham had withdrawn a job advertisement for an “honorary” unpaid research assistant after critics claimed the position was exploitative.

3. Stressed academics are ready to blow in pressure-cooker culture

Academics are suffering from growing stress levels as a result of heavy workloads, management issues and a long-hours culture, according to a survey by the University and College Union released in October.

2. London Met banned from enrolling overseas students

The UK Border Agency revoked London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor overseas students in August, sending shockwaves through the sector.

1. Academic salaries no longer attract top talent, survey finds

The most popular THE story of 2012 indicates that money is on our readers’ minds. THE reported in March that in a ranking of pay by country, the UK finished in seventh place, behind nations including Italy and South Africa.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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