Academics

Students say they don’t understand university offer-making. This must change | Julia Buckingham | Education

Education is a great leveller, a route for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their lives. We know graduates tend do better and earn more in full-time employment. More 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university than ever before, but they remain three times less likely than those from wealthier backgrounds to do so. To narrow that gap, universities must do more to help them. It is essential that the university admissions system is easy for students to understand…

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‘Naked intimidation’: how universities silence academics on social media | Education

When Cardiff University PhD student Grace Krause began getting headaches and back pain after staring at a computer screen for days on end, she decided to speak out online. “Staff are marking hundreds of essays in an impossibly short time. It is exhausting. Everyone is in crisis mode. Stressed, moody, morose, everyone feels like they’re drowning,” she wrote on Twitter. The tweet came after a colleague had killed himself on campus and the inquest cited workload as a factor. Within…

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As white sports lecturers, we’re learning how to make our classroom less racist | Michael Hobson and Stuart Whigham | Education

We write this piece as two white academics, privileged to gain our posts as lecturers. We both predominantly teach sports sociology and regularly discuss the topic of racial discrimination in sport, drawing on the experiences of star athletes such as Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and Raheem Sterling. We welcome the fact that these discussions are happening, but question whether this has made universities more inclusive spaces for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students. We’ve realised that when discussions of…

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Black female professors must deal with bullying to win promotion, report finds | Education

Black female professors have to overcome bullying, stereotyping and institutional neglect in order to win promotion, according to a damning new report of their experiences working at British universities. In interviews with 20 of the total 25 black female professors working in UK universities, Nicola Rollock, the report’s author, said that their experiences made for depressing reading. “What they are saying is that their entire careers have been characterised by abuse and exclusion, and that their race has been the…

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Oxford don suspended over alleged artefact theft could still gain from sale | Education

An Oxford academic suspected of involvement in the alleged theft of ancient Gospel manuscripts stands to gain from a government appeal to purchase an important artefact for the nation. Dr Dirk Obbink, associate professor in papyrology and Greek at Christ Church, is the owner of the artefact – a unique book dating from around 1414. The arts minister, Helen Whateley, has announced a temporary export bar on the precious Myrowr of Recluses, or “Mirror of Recluses”, a Middle-English volume of…

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Minister criticises lack of senior black UK academics | Education

The universities minister has criticised UK higher education institutions for their failure to recruit and promote black and minority ethnic academics, after figures showed that no black staff were employed at the most senior levels. Chris Skidmore, higher education minister for England, said it was unacceptable that the number of black academics in the most senior leadership roles had fallen from an estimated five in 2017-18 to possibly zero in the last academic year. According to figures published by the…

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We refuse to act as external examiners until universities deal with staffing issues | Letter | Education

The scourge of insecure contracts (Thousands of UK academics ‘treated as second-class citizens’, 20 January) is sadly just one of the staffing issues that universities must urgently commit to dealing with. We write as senior academics to say we will be resigning as external examiners, and/or refusing to take on new examining contracts, for courses at universities and colleges across the UK, and to urge colleagues to join us. We are refusing to act as external examiners because although we…

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Senior UK academics protest over pay and working conditions | Education

Senior academics are refusing to act as external examiners – a vital part of higher education assessments – in protest at pay and working conditions in UK universities, and are urging colleagues to join them, potentially disrupting this year’s results for students. British universities rely on external examiners to independently validate the results of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, meaning that mass resignations would cause headaches for universities in the setting and marking of exams. A letter to the Guardian signed…

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Thousands of UK academics ‘treated as second-class citizens’ | Education

Thousands of academic staff at British universities are being treated as second-class citizens on precarious contracts, says a report highlighting the “alarming rise of mass casualised labour” in higher education. The report by the University and College Union claims institutions have created a pool of low-paid staff to teach undergraduates, conduct research and work in libraries, despite having advanced postgraduate or other academic qualifications. It calls on the Office for Students, the higher education regulator in England, to require each…

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Third of Cambridge University staff ‘have experienced bullying’ | Education

Nearly a third of staff at the University of Cambridge say they have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace, according to an internal survey obtained by the Guardian that revealed what one union called “a culture of bullying” in parts of the institution. Responses from 3,000 academic and non-academic staff – a quarter of Cambridge’s total workforce – found that nearly one in three had either been the victims of bullying and other forms of victimisation or had seen…

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‘Far too many are struggling’: are universities failing autistic students? | Education

Matthew Moffatt, who is autistic, struggled when he started at De Montfort University. “When I saw how busy my lecture theatre was, it was terrifying,” he says. “My sense of panic is through the roof and I’m not very good at controlling it. It just builds really quickly – I start shaking and want to leave.” He hadn’t wanted to go to university because he didn’t think he would fit in, and hated the idea of presentations and busy lectures.…

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How to get published in an academic journal: top tips from editors | Education

Writing for academic journals is highly competitive. Even if you overcome the first hurdle and generate a valuable idea or piece of research – how do you then sum it up in a way that will capture the interest of reviewers? There’s no simple formula for getting published – editors’ expectations can vary both between and within subject areas. But there are some challenges that will confront all academic writers regardless of their discipline. How should you respond to reviewer…

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University pension crisis is result of mania and mismanagement | Letters | Education

The race-to-the-bottom logic from two former professors of cutting “gold-plated” university pensions to pay for future generations (Letters, 3 December) is uncalled for. University employers actually boast in their strike-breaking propaganda that the average pension is £17,000 pa. If we old professors get more, others – those who retired as lecturers, or entered the profession late in life – are already getting less. Worse, Waspi women who lost out in the gender pay gap are simultaneously robbed by the retrospective…

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‘The Netflixisation of academia’: is this the end for university lectures? | Education

Before this month’s strikes over low pay and pensions cuts, staff were warned to pause their lecture recordings while they told students that they would be taking part. The University and College Union (UCU), which organised the strike, worried that university management would search recordings to identify who would be engaging in industrial action, and introduce measures to lessen its impact. The union had good reason to be concerned: during last year’s strikes, the head of Edinburgh University’s law school…

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Lib Dems warn of Brexit brain drain as EU academics quit | Education

Brexit is contributing to a serious brain drain in UK universities, say the Liberal Democrats, after it emerged that almost 11,000 EU academics had left since the 2016 referendum. The figures, based on freedom of information responses from universities, show 10,918 left in the three years starting with the 2016-17 financial year. In 2018-19, 4,014 quit, 31% more than in 2015-16, and 40% more than in 2014-15. The figures are almost certain to be underestimates of the real total, because…

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I’m striking because insecure academic contracts are ruining my mental health | Sarah Darley | Education

This week, staff in 60 universities across the UK have been on an eight-day strike over pensions, pay and employment conditions. This has included growing casualisation in universities – which, as a researcher employed on a fixed-term contract, is my life. I’m not alone. A recent University and College Union (UCU) survey reported that 70% of the 49,000 researchers in higher education are currently employed on fixed-term contracts, as are 37,000 teaching staff (the majority of whom are paid hourly).…

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