News round-up: Female academics rise through the ranks more slowly

Female academics are less likely to reach senior positions than male ones, and since the referendum, there’s been a big rise in EU academics leaving the UK


Gender not children ‘holds women academics back’

BBC, 17/10/2019, Hannah Richardson

Women academics do not rise through the ranks as fast as men with the same credentials and personal circumstances, research indicates.

The study, of 2,270 academics at 24 top UK universities, found the men reached more senior levels than the women, even after parenthood was accounted for.


Jump in EU academics leaving UK after Brexit referendum

Times Higher Education, 17/10/2019, Simon Baker

The number of European Union academics leaving the UK for a job in an overseas university climbed by almost half after the Brexit referendum, Times Higher Education can reveal.

According to previously unseen Higher Education Statistics Agency figures on the outflow of staff from the UK by nationality, about 500 academics from other EU countries moved to a job at a university abroad in the year to December 2017, up from 340 in the year before the Brexit vote.


‘Racist’ Gandhi must fall, say Manchester University students

The Times, 17/10/2019, Rosemary Bennett

Students at Manchester University want a statue of Mahatma Gandhi scrapped because of his “anti-black racism”.

The city council has approved plans for a 9ft bronze statue of the Indian independence figure outside Manchester Cathedral to promote peace after the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack.


UCL to divest from fossil fuels and switch to meat-free catering

Times Higher Education, 17/10/2019, Anna McKie

UCL has announced that it will divest from fossil fuels, in a victory for campaigners that was accompanied by the announcement of a string of other measures, including a shift to meat-free catering.

UCL said on 17 October that it would not invest in fossil fuels as of the end of this year and that it would make its portfolio of investments publicly available, following a long-running campaign by students who called for divestment. UCL currently has around £800,000 invested in fossil fuels, around 0.5 per cent of its total investments.


Brexit uncertainty ‘costing UK research £370 million a year’

Times Higher Education, 16/10/2019, Jack Grove

UK science has lost out on hundreds of millions of pounds in European research funds as a result of Brexit uncertainty, a Royal Society report claims.

The analysis, published on 16 October, reveals that the UK secured just 11 per cent of Horizon 2020 grants in 2018 (€1.06 billion, or £920 million in total), compared with 16 per cent of funds signed for in 2015 (€1.49 billion, £1.29 billion) – representing a fall of almost a third, or €430 million (£372 million).


UK universities’ BME staff less likely to hold top jobs

The Guardian, 15/10/2019, Sally Weale

Black and minority ethnic (BME) academic staff at UK universities are paid less than their white counterparts and are considerably less likely to hold the most senior jobs, analysis shows.

Research by the University and College Union found that BME university staff faced a pay gap of 9% compared with their white colleagues, and black staff a 14% gap.


Students moving on to work or training on the rise

BBC, 15/10/2019, Jamie McIvor

A growing number of college students are moving on to work, training or further study according to official figures.

The Scottish Funding Council says almost nine out of 10 students move on to so-called “positive destinations”.


Autumn of student activism begins over rising cost of university halls

The Guardian, 15/10/2019/Rachel Hall

Most students settling in at university this autumn are worrying about seminars and exams, but Caitlin Ghibout, a second-year anthropology student at Durham, is angry about rents. Specifically, the fact that the high costs of college accommodation leave a student on the maximum maintenance loan just £1,270 to cover living costs for the year.

This autumn, in parallel with student activists across the country, Ghibout will be launching a Cut the Rent campaign. She wants to challenge her university over the fact that to make ends meet, lots of students are forced to work part-time or to ask their family for help.


‘Stormzy effect’: record number of black Britons studying at Cambridge

The Guardian, 11/10/2019/Richard Adams

The “Stormzy effect” has helped inspire record numbers of black British students to study at the University of Cambridge, following the musician’s high-profile backing of scholarships for black students at the institution.

Cambridge said 91 black British students had been admitted as first-year undergraduates at the start of the academic year, an increase of nearly 50% compared with last year’s 61 students. It takes the total number of black undergraduates studying at Cambridge above 200 for the first time.


Grade inflation fears prompt new voluntary code for UK degrees

The Guardian, 10/10/2019/Richard Adams

Students will need to “consistently demonstrate” exceptional initiative and problem-solving skills to be awarded first-class honours in their undergraduate degrees, according to a new framework to be adopted by UK universities.

The framework is part of a new voluntary code on degree classifications, designed to address fears that universities have been guilty of inflating grades. The code also calls for universities to display detailed figures on the degree classes awarded, and explain any changes in the proportions awarded.


University’s attempt to teach students about consent backfires as they complain of being ‘triggered’

Daily Telegraph, 10/10/2019, Camilla Turner

A university’s attempt to teach students about consent has backfired as students complain that being made to watch a play titled Can’t Touch This left them feeling “triggered”.

Essex University told undergraduates that they must attend a screening of the play, which explores the issue of sexual harassment during a typical student night out.


Revealed: The academics who need panic alarms or face death threats for their ‘radical’ views

Daily Telegraph, 08/10/2019, Camilla Turner

When Professor Rosa Freedman went to check her pigeon hole last week, she found something unexpected. It was not a letter of support, nor was it hate mail. It was a panic alarm.

Such is the concern among Reading University chiefs for the academic’s safety that they conducted a full security review, which included checking CCTV coverage (she has been followed around campus) and installing an entry phone in her office so she can see who is knocking on her door.


Foreign students are the only way to make universities pay

The Times, 09/10/2019, Rosemary Bennett

Universities will have to recruit more overseas students over the next five years to make up for declining numbers of UK applicants and capped domestic tuition fees, according to analysis by an international credit agency.

Moody’s said that increasing the number of students from China, India and elsewhere in Asia was the only way to repay university debts and continue their borrowing and building.


Universities must do more to tackle racial harassment on campus, report says

Independent, 09/10/2019, Eleanor Busby

Universities must do more to tackle racial harassment and hate crime on campus, according to a new report.

Institutions have been prioritising sexual harassment and gender-based violence but less status has been given to race-based incidents, according to the findings from Universities UK (UUK).


Universities under fire as accommodation crisis hits students

The Times, 07/10/2019, Ben Ellery, Rosemary Bennett, Nicola Woolcock

University bosses have been ordered to explain to ministers why more than 1,500 undergraduates have been forced into temporary rooms.

At least five universities have had to find last-minute temporary properties after developers failed to finish projects on time, The Times can reveal. Some students have been placed up to 30 miles away, including at Bristol University where they commute from the Mendip Hills and Newport in Wales.


Welcome to campus, professor. Here’s the panic alarm and your chaperone

Sunday Times, 06/10/2019, Sian Griffiths

Rosa Freedman is used to working in war zones with the victims of human rights abuses, so she did not expect to feel unsafe “when visiting UK campuses to give a talk”, she said last week.

The law professor, who successfully defended herself against students’ allegations that she was “transphobic”, has been forced to have a panic alarm and a videophone entry system installed in her office. She uses chaperones on campus because she feels threatened by her critics.


Government to make university students sign contracts limiting speech and behaviour

Sunday Times, 06/10/2019, Sian Griffiths

Undergraduates could be required to sign contracts affirming the right to free speech in a government move to combat a wave of campus protests.

It follows attempts by students to “no-platform” prominent speakers and have academics with controversial views fired or disciplined, as well as a spate of death threats against professors.