Lecturer and student relationships matter even more online than on campus | Kate Roll and Marc Ventresca | Education

In a matter of weeks, universities have changed how we teach in at least one important way: we’re now online. It is now becoming clear that this shift may last at least into the new academic year and likely longer. As lecturers, this is not necessarily something to be afraid of: it’s an unparalleled opportunity to rethink teaching and to refocus on relationships with students. In the early days of teaching online, the focus was on recreating the familiar set-up of…

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Women’s research plummets during lockdown – but articles from men increase | Education

In April Dr Elizabeth Hannon, deputy editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, noticed that the number of article submissions she was receiving from women had dropped dramatically. Not so from men. “Negligible number of submissions to the journal from women in the last month,” she posted on Twitter. “Never seen anything like it.” The response was an outpouring of recognition from frustrated female academics, saying they were barely coping with childcare and work during the coronavirus…

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Government refuses multi-billion pound bailout for universities | Education

Universities’ hopes of a long-term government bailout in England have been dashed, though £2.6bn in tuition fees will be paid early and ministers pledged to allow full fees to be charged even if students were unable to return to lecture theatres. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said institutions could continue to charge the full £9,250 annual tuition fee for undergraduates while campuses remained closed and face-to-face classes were suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as long high standards…

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Covid-19 shows up UK universities’ shameful employment practices | Stefan Collini | Education

One byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic has been to focus attention on the precariousness of so many people’s economic circumstances: working long hours, yet one step away from destitution. This should, in truth, not be news to any of us, but there is so much from which we avert our gaze. And in universities, that gaze has in recent years been averted, above all, from the plight of temporary and part-time academic staff. According to recent figures, 54% of university…

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Universities are expecting 230,000 fewer students – that’s serious financial pain | Jo Grady | Education

Our universities are a vital and unique part of our society with an importance that far outweighs their considerable economic value. Yet research into the impact of Covid-19, conducted by London Economics for the University and College Union, shows that universities face a black hole of at least £2.5bn in fee and grant income for 2020-21 as students both in the UK and around the world defer or abandon their plans to study here. The new analysis suggests that over…

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Durham University retracts controversial plan to provide online-only degrees | Education

Durham University has retracted controversial plans to provide online-only degrees due to the coronavirus pandemic following a backlash from students and lecturers. The university’s senate was due to vote on a resolution that would see Durham develop a range of online degrees to “complement its existing high quality residential educational programme”. But it was withdrawn on Wednesday after many senate members expressed opposition to the proposals. The plans, which would also reduce the number of modules taught in person by…

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Manchester University braced for losses of more than £270m | Education

The vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester has said the institution faces losses in excess of £270m next year if students cancel their studies because of the coronavirus pandemic. Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell told staff that job losses and pay cuts might be required, along with “rapid and radical changes to our university and the way we operate”. Her stark assessment came after a report from the University and College Union (UCU) forecast that the sector could lose about £2.5bn…

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The government must protect universities in this crisis or job cuts will follow | Jo Grady | Education

Colleges and universities deliver vital opportunities and drive economic growth. Yet the current coronavirus crisis is now creating huge financial uncertainty in post-16 education. As the general secretary of the University and College Union, I have today written to the government setting out a plan that will protect universities and colleges so they can play their full role in the recovery of our society and economy once the virus is defeated. Most importantly, the government must make a firm commitment…

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Lecturers went on strike over insecure jobs – now we fear coronavirus cuts | Charlotte Morris | Education

It’s no secret that around half of university teaching staff are on temporary contracts. While they feel anxious and insecure at the best of times, they are now doubly so due to the threat coronavirus poses to their future careers. This has been compounded by reports about academic job losses in Australia and hiring freezes in US universities. Now, with the news in the UK that the University of Sussex is reviewing temporary contracts across the institution and Bristol and…

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Hundreds of university staff to be made redundant due to coronavirus | Education

Hundreds of university staff on precarious contracts have been dismissed by their employers in a drive to cut costs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Staff on fixed-term contracts, including visiting lecturers, researchers and student support workers, at Bristol, Newcastle and Sussex universities have been made redundant or told their employment will or may end prematurely, or not be renewed. The job losses come as universities face a black hole of hundreds of millions of pounds in tuition fees from the…

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Universities traumatise student student sexual misconduct survivors by mishandling cases | Anna Bull and Tiffany Page | Education

Sexual harassment complaints processes in universities are a feminist issue. Our research has shown that these processes systematically place (mainly female) survivors of sexual misconduct at a disadvantage compared to those (mainly men) accused of sexual misconduct. Why? Because in staff-student sexual misconduct complaints, students are silenced. They have no right to see evidence submitted against them, to attend a hearing into their complaint, to know the full outcome or to appeal it. Universities have even been known to reach…

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UCL to ban intimate relationships between staff and their students | Education

University College London has become the first Russell Group university to introduce a ban on romantic and sexual relationships between lecturers and their students. UCL said the personal relationships policy would protect against potential abuses of power and conflicts of interest. The policy prohibits “close personal and intimate relationships between staff and students where the staff member has a direct responsibility for, or involvement in, that student’s academic studies and/or personal welfare”. It also obliges staff to declare a close…

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‘It can’t go on’: students join lecturers on the picket line | Education

Early on Thursday morning, striking staff and supportive students braved wind, rain and hailstones to picket at the University of Manchester, demanding an end to unequal pay, unfair workloads, rising pension costs and the casualisation of work. Outside the Samuel Alexander building, Spanish lecturers Adriana Bausells and Rubén Peinado said the precariousness of pay and contracts had become the norm for their department, increasing their workloads and stymieing prospects for promotion. Peinado, 34, is on his fourth fixed-term contract in…

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Thousands of university workers strike across UK | Education

University workers have formed picket lines on campuses across the UK on the first day of the “biggest-ever wave of strikes” over higher education pay, pensions and working conditions. The University and College Union (UCU) reported that support from staff and students remained solid, despite the fact it will be the third time university staff have gone on strike in the last three years – most recently just before Christmas. UCU branches across the country posted pictures of lively picket…

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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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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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