THE Scholarly Web - Hashtag hustings

Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere

March 28, 2013

As speculation continues over what the major political parties’ 2015 election manifestos will have in store for the higher education sector, we used our Twitter feed (@timeshighered) to ask what policies you would like to see introduced - either nationally or at an institutional level. You replied in your hundreds to the ensuing #myHEpolicy hashtag.

Michael Marten (@michaelmarten), lecturer in postcolonial studies at the University of Stirling, wanted to see those in authority getting back to basics - a popular theme. He called for “all senior management to convene and teach a first-year course every year, with at least one seminar/lab/tutorial group”.

Sophie Bowen (@sophiebowen1), secretary and academic registrar at St George’s, University of London, struck a more conciliatory note, calling for the “compulsory intermingling of academics and administrators” to be introduced, “including shared offices, photocopiers and milk rotas”. Nicola Headlam (@networknicola), a researcher at the University of Liverpool, had similarly admirable intentions. “[We should] accept that transition from PhD student to academic is agony and offer support and guidance not temporary contracts and pressure,” she tweeted.

Others showed less benevolence. “Students who call me ‘Miss’ [should] be failed immediately,” declared Hannah Mason-Bish (@DrHannah), criminology lecturer at the University of Roehampton.

Deviancy was also on show. Sandra Leaton Gray (@drleatongray), senior lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of London, wanted to put all the administrators “on casualised contracts and every single researcher on a permanent one, just for fun”. She also wanted all students with “terrible fashion sense, muffin tops, whale thongs and dodgy hairstyles to have to take modules in style”. Jesper Pedersen (@jesperlaerke), a PhD student at the University of Durham, concurred, adding that students showing up for class “in track pants” should be “fined £20”.

Perhaps the most off-the-wall suggestion came from Daniel Stevens (@dc_stevens), international students’ officer at the National Union of Students, who felt that every university library needed “a costumed superhero called ‘Silence Man’ who’s paid to run around and shush people in quiet areas”.

On a more serious note, Steve Woodfield (@sjwku), senior researcher in higher education policy at Kingston University, wanted government ministers to “recognise that universities are important societal institutions rather than simply see them as economic agents”, while Lee Jones (@DrLeeJones), senior politics lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Replace most externals on University Councils with academics elected by their peers. Stop businessmen running universities.”

One of the most welcomed policies came from Jeannie Holstein (@theinsightedge), a researcher at Nottingham University Business School. “Every single person under 25 who is on job seeker’s allowance [should] be offered a place at their local university for [an] open access course,” she said.

But the most popular policy came from Ghislaine Dell (@GhislaineDell), a careers adviser at the University of Bath - perhaps influenced by the still-fresh appointment of Pope Francis: “Vice chancellors to be elected by conclave of lecturers.”

Send links to topical, insightful and quirky online comment by and about academics to chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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