THE WEEK IN HIGHER ED­U­CA­TION

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS -

A team of doc­tors who swal­lowed pieces of Lego and timed how long it took to pass through their bow­els say that par­ents should be re­as­sured by their find­ings, The Guardian re­ported. In the Jour­nal of Pae­di­atrics and Child Health, six re­searchers from the UK and Aus­tralia de­scribed how they had swal­lowed the head of a Lego fig­ure in the “noble tra­di­tion of self-ex­per­i­men­ta­tion”. They as­sessed their re­sults us­ing two new met­rics: the Stool Hard­ness and Tran­sit (Shat) score and the Found and Re­trieved Time (Fart) score. The Fart score – how long it took the Lego piece to pass – was be­tween 1.1 and 3 days, with an av­er­age of 1.7 days. The Shat score was used to demon­strate that the con­sis­tency of stools did not change dur­ing the ex­per­i­ment. Co-au­thor Grace Leo said that par­ents should be re­as­sured that small, smooth plas­tic ob­jects should pass eas­ily if swal­lowed by chil­dren. “[We] could not ask any­thing of our test sub­jects that we would not un­der­take our­selves,” the re­searchers say.

The US’ Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion would have us be­lieve that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But what about a good guy with an ice hockey puck? Michi­gan’s Oak­land Univer­sity has bought 2,500 of the hard cir­cu­lar discs to help staff and stu­dents sur­vive a pos­si­ble mass shoot­ing on cam­pus, the Detroit Free Press re­ported. The idea grew out of a self-de­fence ses­sion or­gan­ised by po­lice chief Mark Gor­don, who won­dered what fac­ulty or stu­dents might hurl at gun­man if cor­nered in a class- room. “When you have 20 or 30 peo­ple in a class­room and they all throw hockey pucks at the same time, it would be quite the dis­trac­tion,” Mr Gor­don said. While staff and stu­dents dream up ever more in­ven­tive ways to defy a gun-tot­ing killer on the ram­page, leg­is­la­tion to in­tro­duce ef­fec­tive gun con­trol in the US is as dis­tant as ever.

Sam Gy­imah’s de­par­ture as the UK’s uni­ver­si­ties and science min­is­ter will not be mourned by too many aca­demics. Hav­ing set him­self up as the “min­is­ter for stu­dents”, many won­dered how much of a friend Mr Gy­imah was to in­sti­tu­tions and their staff be­fore his res­ig­na­tion on 30 Novem­ber over next week’s Brexit vote. But some schol­ars will at least be sad to see the re­tire­ment of Mr Gy­imah’s com­puter-gen­er­ated avatar – star of some weird and rather trippy Twit­ter videos about re­search in uni­ver­si­ties since it was launched in June. Tweet­ing on 1 De­cem­ber, Mr Gy­imah an­nounced that his “an­i­moji” had made its last ad­ven­ture, hav­ing been on some “in­cred­i­ble jour­neys ex­plor­ing top­ics like quantum tech, AI & clean power”.

News, page 7

Pho­tos of Univer­sity of Ox­ford stu­dents camp­ing out­side a let­ting agency are a long way from the usual im­ages of dream­ing spires, gowns and punt­ing nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with the an­cient city. With high de­mand for houses in the city’s so-called golden tri­an­gle around Cow­ley Road, and with sup­ply lim­ited, about 20 un­der­grad­u­ates re­sorted to des­per­ate mea­sures to reach the front of the queue when the agency re­leased its let­ting lists. One 20-year-old stu­dent told MailOn­line how he was “sack­ing off lec­tures” to put in a day shift after his would-be house­mate sat in the freez­ing cold for 12 hours overnight. But some stu­dents may find their time on the freez­ing streets wasted. De­spite the first-come, first-served prin­ci­ple, highly prized five-bed­room homes were more likely to go to mixed groups, rather than lads-only ones, be­cause they tend to look after prop­er­ties bet­ter, said one let­tings man­ager.

Stat­ues have long been mag­nets to pranksters: the fig­ure of Henry VIII who stands over the Great Gate at Trin­ity Col­lege, Cam­bridge lost his sword long ago, al­though it was re­port­edly a win­dow cleaner, not a stu­dent, who armed the Tu­dor monarch with the chair leg that he holds to this day. The Univer­sity of St An­drews is the lat­est in­sti­tu­tion to get into a mon­u­men­tal spot of bother, ap­peal­ing to stu­dents past and present for in­for­ma­tion on the where­abouts of the left hand of a statue of St An­drew that has lived modestly in a car park shrub­bery for al­most four decades, ITV re­ported. The univer­sity, which wants to re­store the sculp­ture and move it to a more cen­tral lo­ca­tion, said that the statue had pre­vi­ously stood in the foyer of the North Bri­tish & Mer­can­tile In­sur­ance Com­pany build­ing in Ed­in­burgh and was touched by staff as they ar­rived to bring them luck. Let’s hope the dis­ci­ple is re­united with his dig­its soon.

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