THE WEEK IN HIGHER ED­U­CA­TION

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS -

“The Con­ser­va­tives are ●●● set to sever links with ev­ery Tory univer­sity group in the coun­try in a bid to detox­ify their brand,” the Huff­in­g­ton Post re­ported on 4 Oc­to­ber. Cut­ting off your youth­ful sup­port­ers seems a counter-in­tu­itive step to­wards re­cov­ery with young vot­ers, but the web­site had some valu­able con­text for the con­fi­den­tial in­ter­nal Tory re­port that “calls for ‘risky stu­dent pol­i­tics’ to be moved com­pletely out of the party struc­tures”. The rec­om­men­da­tion fol­lows “a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ing in­ci­dents in­volv­ing stu­dent groups, in­clud­ing a mem­ber of the Cam­bridge Univer­sity Con­ser­va­tive As­so­ci­a­tion burn­ing a £20 note in front of a home­less per­son and Tories at St An­drews set­ting fire to an ef­figy of Barack Obama”. Put like that, stu­dent pol­i­tics does sound a lit­tle in­cen­di­ary for the Con­ser­va­tives.

Poor Jeremy Ben­tham. ●●● The 19th-cen­tury philoso­pher and found­ing father of Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don in­sisted that his body be pre­served after his death so that mourn­ing friends could wheel him out at par­ties. But when it came to it, his poorly mum­mi­fied head was deemed too ugly to dis­play with the rest of his body. Dis­gusted cu­ra­tors plonked the head in a safe, from which it has tra­di­tion­ally been re­moved just once a year to check that skin and hair are not fall­ing off. A dif­fer­ent sort of in­dig­nity has be­fallen Ben­tham’s pre­served skele­ton (clothed and topped by a wax head), whose pres­ence is some­times re­quired at UCL coun­cil meet­ings. Now, the real nog­gin is be­ing trou­bled again for DNA sam­ples to test the­o­ries that Ben­tham might have had Asperger’s or autism. And at last, the head will fi­nally be put on pub­lic dis­play at a UCL ex­hi­bi­tion, What Does It Mean to Be Hu­man? Cu­rat­ing Heads at UCL, the univer­sity con­firmed on 3 Oc­to­ber.

Col­leges teach Ameri●●● cans to “hate their coun­try and re­li­gion”, ac­cord­ing to Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son. De­fend­ing his father in a speech at a univer­sity fundraiser, Don­ald Trump Jr also seemed to mock uni­ver­si­ties’ fo­cus on di­ver­sity, along with “safe spa­ces” for women, eth­nic mi­nori­ties and LGBTI stu­dents. His father was crit­i­cised only be­cause of an “at­mos­phere of ha­tred” spawned by lib­eral univer­sity cam­puses and tra­di­tional me­dia, he said. “To­day’s con­ser­va­tive speech is vi­o­lence,” Mr Trump Jr grum­bled. “Un­pro­voked lib­eral vi­o­lence is self­de­fense. Words have lost their mean­ings.” Mr Trump Jr’s ad­dress, re­ported on 6 Oc­to­ber, was de­liv­ered to a pri­vate Chris­tian col­lege, Faulkner Univer­sity in Alabama. A spokes­woman con­firmed that Faulkner had paid for the hon­our, but would not say how much. Ac­cord­ing to The North Texas Daily, a stu­dent news­pa­per, Mr Trump Jr will get $100,000 (about £76,200) to speak at an up­com­ing Univer­sity of North Texas event later this month.

Im­pov­er­ished stu­dents ●●● will be re­lieved to hear that there’s a so­lu­tion to money short­ages while at univer­sity – just spend less! At a fringe meet­ing at the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence, uni­ver­si­ties min­is­ter Jo John­son was asked about the pres­sure on par­ents to sup­ple­ment main­te­nance loans. He replied: “There are many other ways in which stu­dents could fill that gap. They can work…they can also save… they can bor­row from their par­ents if they wish, but it isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a parental con­tri­bu­tion.” He added: “Some stu­dents want to live very mod­estly and have a fru­gal ex­is­tence, fo­cus­ing on their stud­ies. Other stu­dents may want a dif­fer­ent lifestyle, but there isn’t one cost of going to univer­sity – it’s a very spe­cific choice that each in­di­vid­ual will make.” The com­ments were re­ported on 3 Oc­to­ber, but much of the gaffe lime­light was drawn away from Mr John­son by his brother, Boris, who chose that day to make crass com­ments about clear­ing away dead bod­ies in Libya.

Eng­land’s teach­ing ●●● ex­cel­lence frame­work has a new name: the teach­ing ex­cel­lence and stu­dent out­comes frame­work. The Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion first used the new ti­tle in a spec­i­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment for the third year of the ex­er­cise, pub­lished on 9 Oc­to­ber. The change re­flects the in­tro­duc­tion of new sup­ple­men­tary met­rics, in­clud­ing the pro­por­tion of a univer­sity’s grad­u­ates in em­ploy­ment or fur­ther study and the pro­por­tion above the “me­dian earn­ings thresh­old”, as mea­sured by data from the gov­ern­ment’s Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Ed­u­ca­tion Out­comes pro­ject. Al­though the full name changes, the acro­nym will re­main as TEF, the DfE clar­i­fied. Which is a shame in a way, as TESOF had good po­ten­tial to serve as an in­sult­ing im­per­a­tive.

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