THE WEEK IN HIGHER ED­U­CA­TION

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS -

In­creas­ing the chances of find­ing a well-paid hus­band is un­likely to be the first thing on the minds of fe­male ap­pli­cants to univer­sity in 2018. How­ever, that out­come does oc­cur as a con­se­quence of women get­ting a de­gree, as The Times high­lighted fol­low­ing an anal­y­sis by the In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Stud­ies. Ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis, a de­gree means that women earn much more over their life­time than non-grad­u­ates (al­though still less than male grad­u­ates), help­ing to in­crease fam­ily in­come. But this in­come is also boosted be­cause, on av­er­age, fe­male grad­u­ates also end up with hus­bands who are paid £100 a week more than the av­er­age worker. The news­pa­per led its ar­ti­cle on this as­pect of the anal­y­sis with a play on the open­ing line from Pride and Prej­u­dice, but per­haps it is an an­gle that de­serves to stay in the time of Jane Austen.

The Harry Pot­ter series is likely to have spawned dozens of aca­demic cour­ses world­wide at­tempt­ing to lure in mil­len­ni­als pe­rus­ing lists of mod­ules. The lat­est ap­pears to be a course at a univer­sity in In­dia that fo­cuses on the im­pli­ca­tions for law, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on The Guardian web­site. The course – cre­ated by an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Juridi­cal Sciences in Kolkata – asks stu­dents to con­sider the le­gal as­pects of top­ics such as char­ac­ters’ use of “un­for­giv­able curses” (tor­ture, mur­der and pos­ses­sion of an­other per­son) and the rules of the broom­stick-based sport quid­ditch. But it also en­cour­ages stu­dents to ap­ply the themes of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the book to so­cial di­vi­sions in mod­ern In­dia. It can’t be long be­fore “Study­ing the crash: what Gringotts Bank tells us about the state of the world econ­omy” or “Polyjuice po­tions for be­gin­ners” also come to a cur­ricu­lum near you.

Stu­dents at a univer­sity in South Africa have cre­ated what is pur­ported be the world’s first brick made from hu­man urine, The Guardian re­ported on 25 Oc­to­ber. Ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle, the bio-brick was pro­duced af­ter urine col­lected from spe­cially de­signed uri­nals at the Univer­sity of Cape Town was mixed with sand and bac­te­ria. Grow­ing bio-bricks with urea has been tested syn­thet­i­cally in the US, the news­pa­per said, but Cape Town be­lieves that this is the first time ac­tual hu­man urine has been con­verted into a brick. Dyl­lon Ran­dall, a se­nior lec­turer in wa­ter qual­ity en­gi­neer­ing at Cape Town, who su­per­vised the project, said that the process by which the bio­bricks are made is sim­i­lar to the way that seashells are formed and does not re­quire high- tem­per­a­ture kilns. Their flush of ex­cite­ment could also re­quire a re­def­i­ni­tion of what it means for some­one to be “brick­ing it”, a slang term that refers to a slightly dif­fer­ent bod­ily func­tion.

Sell­ing caviar sounds like a lu­cra­tive – if slightly sur­pris­ing – in­come stream for uni­ver­si­ties fac­ing in­creas­ing re­stric­tions on pub­lic fund­ing. But a US in­sti­tu­tion’s stur­geon farm has run into con­tro­versy af­ter an aca­demic was ac­cused of per­son­ally prof­it­ing from trad­ing the cured roe. The Ge­or­gia Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion said that Dou­glas Peter­son, pro­fes­sor of fish­eries at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, had added a “con­sult­ing fee” to each sale of caviar, ac­cord­ing to the Athens Ban­ner-Her­ald. The aca­demic and his wife have also been ac­cused of us­ing a univer­sity boat for leisure ac­tiv­i­ties at their Florida hol­i­day home. Pro­fes­sor Peter­son, who has an­nounced his re­tire­ment, has de­nied any wrong­do­ing and blamed a mis­un­der­stand­ing. “I gen­uinely un­der­stood and be­lieved for over seven years that what I did was ac­cept­able, and the univer­sity al­ways re­ceived fair market value for its caviar,” he said. The chair of a univer­sity’s gov­er­nors has said that UK higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions that ben­e­fited from the slave trade should con­trib­ute to a £100 mil­lion fund to sup­port eth­nic mi­nor­ity stu­dents. Ge­off Thompson, chair of the board at the Univer­sity of East Lon­don, has sent Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests to other providers to see if they re­ceived money from the slave trade be­tween the 16th and 19th cen­turies, the BBC re­ported. Mr Thompson, a for­mer karate world cham­pion, said that in­sti­tu­tions should fol­low the lead of the Univer­sity of Glas­gow, which set up a “repar­a­tive jus­tice” pro­gramme af­ter cal­cu­lat­ing that it may have ben­e­fited from gifts worth up to £198 mil­lion con­nected to the slave trade. The new fund could help stu­dents who could not af­ford to grad­u­ate, Mr Thompson said.

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