THE WEEK IN HIGHER ED­U­CA­TION

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS -

Hopes that Lord Ado­nis might bring his cam­paign against vice-chan­cel­lors’ pay to a cli­max with a speech at the Uni­ver­si­ties UK con­fer­ence next month, and then leave every­one to get on with their lives, have been dashed. The for­mer ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter raised eye­brows when he tweeted on 23 Au­gust that he had agreed to speak at the event, pledg­ing to “set out a blue­print for the re­form of uni­ver­si­ties”, cov­er­ing “fees, lead­er­ship, gov­er­nance [and] mis­sion”. Ex­cite­ment was al­lowed to build for six hours, un­til Alis­tair Jarvis, UUK’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, burst Lord Ado­nis’ bub­ble. “I’m happy to meet with you to dis­cuss these issues but you are not on the agenda,” replied a mic­drop­ping Mr Jarvis. Of course, for Lord Ado­nis, this was “typ­i­cal of [a] cosy car­tel”. So we’ll be hear­ing from him for a little while longer, it seems.

Uni­ver­si­ties’ in­ter­net se­cu­rity sys­tems may have wit­nessed a leap in ac­tiv­ity in re­cent weeks, after adult video site Porn­hub an­nounced the lat­est it­er­a­tion of its an­nual Porn­hub Cares Schol­ar­ship con­test. The web­site is of­fer­ing a grant of $25,000 (£19,500) to the univer­sity stu­dent who sub­mits the best es­say on the theme of ”How is your work con­tribut­ing to a bet­ter fu­ture for the world”. Ap­pli­cants can also present a video clip “fur­ther il­lus­trat­ing their re­sponse”, al­though these will pre­sum­ably be a little more vanilla than Porn­hub’s usual sub­mis­sions.

Chi­nese par­ents have taken to scal­ing walls and sneak­ing through tun­nels as they at­tempt to give their chil­dren an in­spir­ing glimpse of univer­sity cam­puses. “A fam­ily of four was caught try­ing to gain en­try into Bei­jing’s pres­ti­gious Ts­inghua Univer­sity by hud­dling to­gether in the back of a tiny de­liv­ery van” in a bid to avoid huge queues of tourists try­ing to gain ac­cess to the cam­pus, The Daily Tele­graph re­ported on 21 Au­gust. Mean­while, Xi­a­men Univer­sity’s head of se­cu­rity said that the in­sti­tu­tion has in­tro­duced “a se­ries of se­cu­rity mea­sures, but many tourists still try to en­ter the cam­pus for a tour by climb­ing over the walls and trees, and even through hid­den tun­nels”. It was a good week for au­to­mo­tive-themed sto­ries on the sta­tus-driven ap­petite for ed­u­ca­tion in China, as the Daily Mail also re­ported on stu­dents who scored top marks in the na­tional col­lege en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion and gained en­trance to Ts­inghua and Pek­ing uni­ver­si­ties be­ing pa­raded through their town in SUVs, their heads stick­ing out of the sun­roofs.

If Carol Christ hoped that things would calm down at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, after her ap­point­ment as chan­cel­lor, she is go­ing to be sorely dis­ap­pointed. The Chron­i­cle of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion re­ported on 23 Au­gust that for­mer Bre­it­bart edi­tor Milo Yiannopou­los was fol­low­ing through on his plan to re­turn to cam­pus after a speech he planned for Fe­bru­ary was can­celled amid fears of vi­o­lence – and that he will be joined by for­mer White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non, and con- ser­va­tive writer Ann Coul­ter. Don­ald Trump, who threat­ened to take away Berke­ley’s fed­eral fund­ing when Mr Yiannopou­los’ speech was can­celled, will no doubt be look­ing on with in­ter­est. But Mr Trump may be less pleased to hear that James Comey, the FBI di­rec­tor he fired, will be lec­tur­ing at Howard Univer­sity this year as Gwen­dolyn S. and Col­bert I. King en­dowed chair in pub­lic pol­icy, as the Daily Mail re­ported on the same day. With Mr Comey hav­ing stayed silent since tes­ti­fy­ing to Congress on 8 June, Mr Trump will prob­a­bly be turn­ing Fox News to mute when the lec­ture comes on.

“A vam­pire ex­pert is at the cen­tre of a furore in­volv­ing claims that he licked up a stu­dent’s blood when she cut her­self in one of his classes,” ran the su­perla­tive in­tro­duc­tion to a Daily Mail story on 20 Au­gust. “Emyr Wil­liams, a se­nior lec­turer in psy­chol­ogy at Wrex­ham Glyn­dwr Univer­sity…is al­leged to have been spot­ted swip­ing the blood and suck­ing it off his fin­gers when the stu­dent looked over her shoul­der as she left the room,” it went on, not­ing that Dr Wil­liams “had fea­tured in na­tional me­dia three years ago when he said that vam­pires are not a myth, and that there are as many as 15,000 liv­ing in the UK”. There was a se­ri­ous point to the story, orig­i­nally re­ported by the Sun­day Times. A PhD stu­dent re­ported these claims, but al­leges that she found her­self the sub­ject of work­place bul­ly­ing and is now pur­su­ing an em­ploy­ment tri­bunal case. Dr Wil­liams de­nies any wrong­do­ing, and ahead of next month’s tri­bunal he is re­ported to have said that the sup­posed blood-tast­ing never hap­pened.

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