News round-up: academics go on strike over pensions

The universities minister says that students should be compensated for missed teaching time as a result of the pensions strike, and a report says that there should have been greater scrutiny in the appointment of Toby Young to the board of the Office for Students


EU ‘should forge wider research community after Brexit’

Times Higher Education, 01/03/2018, Rachael Pells

A new report from the Wellcome Trust has suggested Brexit is an opportunity to forge a stronger European research area, including the UK and other nations outside the EU bloc.


Don’t silence empire ideas, says minister

The Times, 01/03/2018, Rosemary Bennett

Universities should not discard “unpopular or unfashionable” parts of the curriculum in their enthusiasm to decolonise degree courses, the minister for higher education has warned. Many universities are under pressure to make curriculums more ethnically diverse and less dominated by white, Eurocentric traditions. Sam Gyimah said it was important to keep unloved writers, ideas and opinions so students could understand and challenge them. He was also unhappy about the rise in unconditional offers to prospective students, saying academic selection was a cornerstone of university.

The debate over decolonisation was exactly what should happen in universities and was a part of a “free exchange of ideas”, he said. “Part of the university experience is facing up to the unpopular, engaging it, challenging it. That is how you widen your horizons,” he said.


Universities minister warns against ‘decolonising’ curricula to avoid ‘unfashionable’ subjects

Daily Telegraph, 01/03/2018, Camilla Turner

Universities Minister hits out at bid to ‘decolonise’ courses and make them ‘less white’ by phasing out ‘pale, male and stale’ subjects to appease campaigners

Mail Online UK, 28/02/2018, Eleanor Harding


Universities should pay back students for strike, says minister

BBC News online, 28/02/2018, Sean Coughlan

The universities minister says students whose courses have been disrupted by the university strike should receive compensation for lost classes. Sam Gyimah said this could mean a refund on tuition fees or rearranging cancelled lectures. At the launch of a new higher education regulator, Mr Gyimah told universities this was the “age of the student” and they deserved better value for money. The universities minister, speaking in Westminster at the launch of the Office for Students, said he was “very serious” about universities paying back students who had missed out on classes during the strike over pensions. He said that the wages saved by universities because of the strike could be used to support students, rather than kept by institutions.

King’s College London says it will have a fund to compensate students. The university says that it will ring-fence any savings from staff pay on strike days and use the money to “offset the impact of the strike on our students”.


University strikes: Students set to receive ‘direct compensation” over lectures missed due to action, minister says

The Independent, 28/02/2018, Eleanor Busby

Students need compensation over strikes, says Minister

Financial Times, 01/03/2018, Robert Wright

Government Backs Student Demands For Refunds Over Lecturer Strike

Huffington Post UK, 28/02/2018, George Bowden


World university subject rankings: the UK is back on top

The Guardian, 28/02/2018

The latest QS university rankings by subject, released on 28 February, show that ten of the 48 subject tables are led by UK institutions. No UK institution that held a world-leading status in 2017 has been overtaken by an international competitor. The University of Oxford has retained its number one status for four subjects. The University of Cambridge has taken the top spot for anthropology from Harvard.


Avoidable mistakes made in appointment of Toby Young

BBC, 27/02/18

Toby Young’s reputation as a “controversialist” should have prompted greater scrutiny into his past before he was appointed to England’s new university regulator, a probe has said.


Universities claim success at start of strike

Financial Times, 22/02/18, Robert Wright

The trade union leading strikes at UK universities in protest at a shake-up to academics’ pensions on Thursday claimed success with the first day of industrial action.