THE WEEK IN HIGHER ED­U­CA­TION

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS -

Bos­ton Univer­sity eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor Christophe Cham­ley en­joyed a pleas­ant solo hike over two moun­tains in New Hamp­shire last month. Then, in­stead of re­turn­ing home at the end of the day, the 70-year-old stayed at a lux­ury ho­tel, sent his wife a What­sApp mes­sage at 1am to let her know that he was fine, and went to sleep. But because the mes­sage failed to send, his wife called moun­tain res­cue ser­vices to re­port him miss­ing, The Daily Tele­graph re­ported on 3 May. The state Fish and Game De­part­ment dis­patched snow­mo­biles and a Na­tional Guard he­li­copter to search for Pro­fes­sor Cham­ley, be­fore of­fi­cials even­tu­ally spoke to the ho­tel and re­alised that he was sleep­ing soundly there. Kevin Jor­dan, chief of the de­part­ment’s law en­force­ment di­vi­sion, told the New Hamp­shire Union Leader that Pro­fes­sor Cham­ley would likely be charged for the costs of the search, which he es­ti­mated would be sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars. Fish and Game De­part­ment staff were “of course, a lit­tle up­set, but af­ter that they were very car­ing”, said Pro­fes­sor Cham­ley, be­hav­ing, as an econ­o­mist would, as a ra­tio­nal agent try­ing to flat­ter his way out of the enor­mous bill.

Sir An­thony Sel­don, vicechan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of Buck­ing­ham, spot­lighted a fac­tor in ris­ing men­tal health prob­lems among the UK’s youth population that most ob­servers have hith­erto over­looked – state ed­u­ca­tion. He dis­cussed the men­tal health of univer­sity stu­dents at an event held by the Head­mas­ters’ and Head­mistresses’ Con­fer­ence, an as­so­ci­a­tion of pri­vate school heads, the Daily Mail re­ported on 2 May. Sir An­thony said: “You know about the rise in sui­cide, you know about the in­abil­ity of many stu­dents to cope – how can they cope when they have been spoon­fed at their state schools, not given that free­dom to learn, to or­gan­ise their own time?” Sir An­thony went to the pri­vate Ton­bridge School, taught at the pri­vate Whit­gift School, taught at Ton­bridge, was deputy head at the pri­vate St Dun­stan’s Col­lege, was head­mas­ter at the pri­vate Brighton Col­lege and then at the pri­vate Welling­ton Col­lege. His ca­reer choices in­di­cate a sur­pris­ing un­will­ing­ness to grap­ple with the flaws of the state school sys­tem, of which he knows so much.

“A Brit uni grad­u­ate has spent £5,000 on bill­board ads in the US and UK ask­ing Kanye West for a job,” The Sun re­ported on 1 May. Durham Univer­sity eco­nom­ics grad­u­ate Harry Dry funded part of the cost of the ads by sav­ing up his stu­dent main­te­nance loan. He was “in­spired to do some­thing dif­fer­ent hav­ing no­ticed the Amer­i­can rap­per had 160 jobs to fill in his busi­ness em­pire” and has paid for bill­boards in Lon­don, Wy­oming, New York and Los An­ge­les, the hubs of said “em­pire”, The Sun said. In light of Mr West’s re­cent com­ments sug­gest­ing that the en­slave­ment of African Amer­i­cans over cen­turies may have been a “choice”, any­one who can get him to shut up would be a valu­able hire. The furore over those com­ments by the rap­per, who ref­er­enced his cur­tailed higher ed­u­ca­tion in his al­bum The Col­lege Dropout, saw co­me­dian Romesh Ran­ganathan ob­serve on Twit­ter: “Kanye West is an in­cred­i­ble ad­vert for fin­ish­ing col­lege.”

Sam Gy­imah, the UK’s uni­ver­si­ties min­is­ter, made the umpteenth in a pos­si­bly never-end­ing se­ries of an­nounce­ments on cam­pus free speech on 3 May, as he held a be­hind-closed-doors meet­ing with sec­tor lead­ers. “Stu­dents will be banned from re­fus­ing speak­ers a plat­form at their uni­ver­si­ties un­der the first gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion on free speech on cam­pus for 30 years,” The Times ex­cit­edly pro­claimed. Mr Gy­imah was closer to the truth when he said in an opin­ion piece for The Times that the meet­ing sought to “clar­ify the rules and reg­u­la­tions around speak­ers and events”. “‘I wholly dis­ap­prove with what you say, but I will de­fend to the death your right to say it’. Voltaire’s fa­mous words re­flect my opin­ion on free speech. It is an es­sen­tial part of a thriv­ing democ­racy, a civil so­ci­ety and a ful­fill­ing univer­sity ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mr Gy­imah’s piece be­gan. The un­gram­mat­i­cal “dis­ap­prove with” went along­side a quo­ta­tion that is no­to­ri­ous for be­ing a) so hack­neyed that us­ing it would shame a GCSE stu­dent; and b) mis­at­tributed to Voltaire. There fol­lowed a weak anec­dote about one of Mr Gy­imah’s “Sam on Cam­pus” events that mer­ited the ba­thetic head­line that the sub-ed­i­tors in­flicted on the ar­ti­cle: “The time I was al­most cen­sored on cam­pus.”

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