Excess Baggage

Luxury Transport for Students

Just land it in the quad

Just land it in the quad

Lots of coverage in the media for this new service offering Luxury Transport for Students. New students are urged to become VIFs – or Very Important Freshers – and take advantage of these new ways of getting to university:

We are stepping up the game, we are changing the way students travel to University and from September we will be offering the UKs first luxury student transport service.Freshers now have the option to travel to their first day on campus by luxurious and bespoke transport options, through the new ‘Very Important Fresher’ service.Transport options for Freshers to choose from include: a private jet or helicopter, Rolls Royce Phantom, a Mclaren P1, a Ferrari F430 and many others. All with the aim of providing an action-packed James Bond style expedition across the country, to arrive in style and make an entrance enviable of movie stars and premiership football players. Uni Baggage will also transport the students belongings separately so they have everything they need to start University.

It does seem like excellent publicity for a company which is aiming to sell its more mundane transport services to students. Will anyone take advantage of these VIF opportunities? Not many I suspect as none of this seems like a good way to make new friends in freshers’ week.

I’m tempted to book the horse and carriage…

True Crime on Campus §37: long hot summer

Even More True Crime on Campus

It may be summer but our always vigilant Security staff are still on duty to ensure that every unlikely situation is dealt with:

08:05 Security reported an altercation between a driver and a cyclist at the end of the road leading up to the West Entrance Gatehouse on University Park Campus. Security witnessed the driver of the vehicle give the cyclist a hard push, knocking the cyclist off his feet. The Security Officer at the Gatehouse then witnessed both parties coming to an agreement as they shook hands. The cyclist rode off from Campus and the driver came onto the Campus. Details of the vehicle registration were noted.

1526 Report of a person sleeping in Pope Building. Security attended and woke the person up. On speaking to the person they confirmed that they were a student and were tired.

10:45 Security received a complaint from the driver of the Jubilee Hopper bus to advise that the line painters had refused to move from the bus layby on Spine Road. The painting contractors advised that the bus driver hadn’t asked them to move and they couldn’t just stop working due to the equipment that they were using. The bus driver went up the kerb on an alternative route.

1030 Report of youths at the rear of the ETB throwing stones. Security attended – the area was checked the youths could not be located.

1125 Report that a Bus had struck one of the bridges connecting the L buildings with Coates Building. Security attended. The bridge was checked and found to be undamaged.

Fortunately, this didn't happen on this occasion

Fortunately, this didn’t happen on this occasion

0815, 1240 Report that a new wooden bench was on fire in Diamond Wood Sutton Bonington. Security attended and put the fire out. There are signs that the area had been used as a camp site the previous evening.

00:10 Security received a report from a resident at Hugh Stewart Hall that stones were being thrown at the windows. Security attended Hugh Stewart Hall and found two youths crouching near the windows facing the Main Visitor’s car park. No damage to windows recorded. Both youths informed Security that they were from the Summer School and staying at Lincoln Hall. Security escorted the youths back to Lincoln Hall and informed the Summer School Tutors of what had happened. Security to follow up.

00:10 Security discovered two green directional signs one “West Entrance” and the other “Trent Building” in the bushes at Hugh Stewart Hall. These signs were located in the same place as the youths throwing stones at the windows. Security to follow up and Helpdesk informed.

14:20 Security attended the Aspire building on Triumph Road Jubilee Campus after a report that a group of children were breaking the lights which illuminated the Aspire. On arrival it was confirmed that the light which is set into the ground had been broken. A group of teenagers were near the broken light and all denied being involved with the incident. Security have spoken to a witness of the incident and were informed that the male responsible for the damage had left the scene. Helpdesk informed. Police updated. Security to follow up.

1010 Report of a fault with a Kitchen extractor fan in Derby Hall Kitchens. Lilley’s called out. They stated that they would not attend as this is specialist equipment. The Estates Help Desk to be informed.

1531 Report of a male sawing the lock off a Pedal Cycle adjacent to Hallward Library. Uniformed and Covert Security Officers attended the male was stopped and spoken to. The male, a Student, had in fact been using a pump to blow up his tyres and not, as had been reported, sawing the lock off.

sign-44157_640

0250 Report that a deer had been seen on Beeston Lane. Security attended, the area was checked but the animal could not be located. Police were informed in case of traffic issues.

1740 Report of Conference Delegates at Jubilee Campus causing a nuisance to a Resident on Horston Drive. Security attended and caught a group of delegates from the Italian children’s conference causing a nuisance. Officers contacted the conference organiser who dealt with the children concerned.

1715 Report that a hot water tap would not turn off in the Play Centre. Security attended and turned off the water to the tap. Estates Help Desk to be informed.

2348 Report of mini insects in a room in Hall. The resident asked for Security to attend. On arrival Officers suggested that the student close the window.

Very good at hiding

Very good at hiding

2215 Report of a pigeon hiding behind a sofa in the Amenities Building Jubilee Campus. Security attended and the pigeon was removed from the Building.

And finally, one in which I have to declare a personal interest. Following an exciting weekend of den-building, my youngest daughter decided to involve her friends at the University play scheme in similar activity. Unfortunately, the results were misinterpreted:

19:00 Security reported 4 shelters that have been built using branches from a fallen tree in the wooded area at the front of Lenton Fields. It does not appear that the shelters have been used for anybody to sleep in. Security checked the area overnight. Helpdesk informed to make Grounds staff aware.

Amazon on campus

Amazon sets up shop at Purdue

purduelogo

 

According to @insidehighered Purdue University is to become the next “Amazon Campus”, which will allow access to Amazon offered products through the Purdue Student Store.

 

Coming to a campus near you

Coming to a campus near you

Beyond Amazon’s impact on campus bookstores’ bottom lines, the company’s presence in higher education has mostly been felt in the post office, as students opt to order rental or used books online. With the expansion of its Amazon Campus program, the company is aiming for more visibility on college campuses.The co-branded program at Purdue is the second of its kind. The University of California at Davis announced a pilot with Amazon last November, and the company has expansion plans in the works, a spokeswoman said in an email.In addition to offering priority shipping options, Amazon will staff locations on campus where students can pick up their orders and drop off rented textbooks when they are due.
ucdavis_logo
UC-Davis, in comparison, uses Amazon’s bright yellow automated lockers. Both benefits are expected to roll out during the next year at Purdue, according to a press release. As part of its deal with Amazon, UC-Davis collects “a little more than 2 percent of most purchases” from the university-branded store. In the first two academic quarters since the launch of the pilot, the partnership has netted the university $139,000, much of which has gone toward funding short-term financial aid and textbook scholarships.

So it sounds like it might be a pretty good deal for universities and for their students. And it might ensure that campus bookshops, which have slowly been disappearing, might have a future after all. But it also means of course that Amazon’s dominance will continue to grow. Presumably they could also extend into wider provision of goods and services to universities from laboratory supplies to stationery. So is the future Amazon for everything?

Video game scholarships

League of Legends becomes a varsity sport

League_of_legends_logo_transparent

Inside Higher Ed has a story about an Illinois university which has decided to make ‘League of Legends’ a varsity sport and award a number of scholarships to boot:

In the latest blow to the nerd-jock distinction, an Illinois university has added video games to its varsity sports lineup.Robert Morris University-Illinois, a 7,000-student private institution with its main campus in Chicago, announced this month that it would incorporate eSports – organized video-game competitions – into its athletic program. Starting in September, League of Legends players will join hockey goalies, quarterbacks and point guards as varsity athletes at the Chicago campus. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.League of Legends is an online multiplayer battle-arena video game. More than 27 million people play it each day, according to Riot Games, which developed the game.The Chicago-based university, which has no affiliation with Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, is the first institution in the country to assign varsity status to a video game.The university plans to offer between 45 and 50 athletic scholarships to incoming gamers, said Kurt Melcher, the university’s associate athletic director. The scholarships will pay for 50 percent of tuition and 50 percent of room and board for members of the League of Legends team.

I must admit I’m not familiar with this particular game but it does seem rather exciting:

whatislol-intro

League of Legends is a fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements. Two teams of powerful champions, each with a unique design and playstyle, battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. With an ever-expanding roster of champions, frequent updates and a thriving tournament scene, League of Legends offers endless replayability for players of every skill level.

Still not sure that this quite fits with university sports environment or that video games count as sport. Or indeed that the university will find any other university to play against.

Graduation 2014: Latest

Updates from the Ceremonial Front Line

I recently provided a summary of a series of posts related to graduation (reproduced below):

  1. A recent post on graduation challenges including Decanal difficulties with names and a failed graduand backflip.
  2. The surprising news that swimming was not part of graduation requirements any more for one US university.
  3. The differences between a US-style Commencement and a graduation.
  4. The strange ceremonial use for a weapon at graduation – the place of the mace.
  5. And finally, Graduation as being all a bit lovely like London 2012 (if we can remember that far back).

Since then though there has been the annual Serious or Celeb Honorary Graduates post (mostly celeb as it happens) featuring some real stars such as this fine chap:

Puffed up? Moi?

He worked VERY hard for his honorary


but the key issue I felt I needed to address was this surprising news from China. The Independent reports that thousands of female graduates across China have ditched the traditional mortar board in favour of wedding dresses:

Will it catch on?

Will it catch on?

Unlike Britain, where ingrained traditions of tearful parents, gowned lecturers and celebrity speakers are all part of graduation day, in China there are fewer set in stone traditions and this has given birth to new ideas and rituals, including the wearing of wedding dresses.During this summer’s graduation ceremonies, more and more of China’s female graduates have been adorning white gowns and tiaras to pose for the all-important graduation photo.According to Liu Xiangping a student from Xi’an Polytechnic University in central China “The wedding dress makes things feel more meaningful.”

Whilst I have yet to see anyone in a wedding dress cross our platform, there have been a disturbing number of examples of this latest fashion:

Highly questionable garb

Highly questionable garb

I’m eagerly awaiting news of other graduation developments this year.

Signs of the Times

Is university signage important for academic achievement?

No. And I fear that this story rather overstates the significance of signage on university campuses.

This piece was pointed out to me by Simon @GlobalHE (to whom many thanks) and covers the importance of signage in education. Whilst I really do want to take it seriously and I do recognise that with a big and diverse campus we do need effective signage for students, staff and visitors, it all seems a bit over the top:

This way and that

Too much information?

Educational buildings are used by a range of demographic groups, from small children to mature students, with a variety of needs and requirements.

A good signage strategy is the starting point to make sure that all staff, students and visitors can move around the school or campus in an efficient, clear and secure way.

“Educational wayfinding signage needs to be clear, concise, accurate, durable and stylish,” said Lindsay Burnham, marketing manager for Astley, an established sign provider in the education sector.She continued: “Not only does the information need to be correct and visible, it also has to meet all health and safety regulations to maintain the wellbeing of the individuals.

”Signage can also play a part in a student’s academic achievements, as Burnham explained: “Attending a new a school or university is daunting for any student and being able to work their way round the campus, to be in the right place at the right time, is a key factor as to whether they feel settled in their new place of study and ultimately that they perform well and are successful.”

So, whilst sign providers will, of course, recommend a carefully planned signage strategy from the early stages of a new build project, it probably isn’t business critical. Or perhaps I’m underestimating the importance of all this.

It’s graduation time again

It’s gown and mortar board season

grads

Students are required practice this for months before graduation

Having realised that I’ve written quite a few posts on graduation in the past, and being short of something new to say as our graduation season kicks off this week, I thought I would bring together a few recent pieces on this most special of university occasions. So, here they are, in an artificially generated order, my top 5 graduation posts of the past couple of years:

  1. A very recent post on graduation challenges including Decanal difficulties with names and a failed graduand backflip.
  2. The surprising news that swimming was not part of graduation requirements any more for one US university.
  3. The differences between a US-style Commencement and a graduation.
  4. The strange ceremonial use for a weapon at graduation – the place of the mace.
  5. And finally, Graduation as being all a bit lovely like London 2012 (if we can remember that far back).

So, do hope that keeps everyone going until I have something more original to offer.

The luxury gap

Dormitories v apartments

I wrote some time ago here about the advent of extremely luxurious student accommodation in the US. This was linked to anxieties about students having it all just too easy. Certainly the trend in the UK has been away from shared rooms and bathrooms and towards individual en suite rooms and studio apartments in new complexes with gyms and social spaces.

Now @insidehighered has an essay which argues that colleges are better with old-style dormitories than apartment-like facilities:
LoyolaMD_Dorm

Apartment-style dorm rooms are the Hot New Thing at some colleges nowadays. Single rooms instead of doubles or even quads, exterior doors instead of crowded hallways, private bathrooms instead of gang showers and those icky shared toilets, even mini-kitchens instead of the noisy dining hall – all have an undeniable appeal for incoming freshmen looking to maximize the more adult features of undergraduate life.Many contemporary students grew up with their own bedrooms, and perhaps even their own bathrooms, and may recoil from sharing their personal spaces with that mysterious stranger, the roommate or hallmate. So colleges and universities, particularly sensitive to the preferences of full-pay students, are starting to move away from traditional long-hallway dorms to more individualized rooms, some with generous amenities. Prospective students seem to love the idea.

But, the argument runs, essentially this is not good for the students or their personal and academic development. The shared experience of this kind of residential life makes making friends a lot easier and provides students with a supportive environment when they most need it, at the start of their university life.

I think it’s a persuasive argument but a difficult sell to potential students. The line that it may be old, traditional and lower spec accommodation but it’s good for you is not necessarily the best pitch to applicants. Especially if this is the alternative:

Too much luxury?

Too much luxury?

But for many institutions (and students) there may not be much choice.

Celebrating Student Success

We really do have an outstanding Students’ Union

A nice new website publicising the University of Nottingham Students’ Union’s successes over the past year and its centenary celebrations:

For the last week of the semester, your officers decided it was time to celebrate the things we’d achieved. So, we launched our very first Celebration Week. Celebration Week is the perfect time to look back on the successes of the past year. What’s was the most memorable moment of 2013/14? What was your biggest success? What would you have done differently?Most importantly, we wanted to know how you were celebrating everything you’d been getting up to, while we held some celebrations of our own. Special events, such as the free 100 Heroes exhibition tours, Women in Leadership Tea Party and Mooch Big Brunch, were put together just for Celebration Week.Thanks to everyone for a brilliant year – and we’ll see you again at Welcome!

It’s all terrific stuff and serves to remind us of the essential role students’ unions play in the life of universities. Things have certainly moved on in the past 100 years:

Unions have moved on a little...

Unions have moved on a little…

The Varsity win was pretty good too.

So well done to all of this year’s officers and look forward to even more successes next year.

Taking Student Mental Health Seriously

 Students Supporting Students

Have only just learned of Student Minds.

Did you know: Students, after joining university, are more anxious and more likely to develop depression? It’s no surprise, university can be a stressful and daunting environment. Estimates show that around 25% of all students experience distress at a worrying level. The move away from home is particularly stressful, inducing symptoms of anxiety. In the case of one fifth of students, reaching levels of clinical significance mid-way through second year. We found that most students are most likely to talk to their peers, primarily their friends. However, this can not always be a comfortable experience.

 Student Minds was chosen as the supported charity at this year’s Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards. The organisation believes we should take student mental health issues much more seriously:

If tackled early we have the opportunity to prevent the development of more severe mental health problems. Early adult life is a crucial stage in the transition from adolescence independence as an adult. Underachievement or failure at this stage can have long-term effects on self-esteem and the progress of an individual’s life. The opportunity to share experiences can help break down isolation and the format of a group can boost motivation, and the informality of a group session run by Student Minds volunteers – groups do not have waiting lists, and students can self-refer, using the support as and when they feel they need it. Finally, we do not keep records of attendance, removing the concern that accessing help will reflect negatively on a student’s CV or university record.

 It’s a great range of activities and clearly making a really valuable contributuon on campuses around the country. The University of Nottingham Students’ Union is also involved:

Student Minds Nottingham (formerly known as UoN Mental Wealth) is a campaigns group that works to promote positive wellbeing and mental health for students whilst studying at UoN.

Our objectives are:

- to tackle the issue of social isolation and stigma of mental health.

- to enhance the mental health provision within the university.

- to break down potential barriers to students and provide opportunities for personal development for students.

We run support groups with the help and training of Student Minds.

We also run events and workshops over the academic year to inform people about mental health conditions and break down barriers.

 

Universities do, of course, provide services to support students with mental health issues but the work of Student Minds seems to provide a valuable complement to these. This is particularly important given the challenges to public mental health services for young people.

So, a great charity and do hope it continues to grow and provide excellent support for students.

 

 

When is a campus not a campus?

The QAA has published a report which takes issue with UK international branch campus definition

The United Arab Emirates has many international Branch Campuses including some from the UK. A recent post here commented that branch campuses, including the University of Nottingham’s campuses in Malaysia and China, were a major part of international activity.

Others have branch campuses too (and aren't subject to the QAA)

Others have branch campuses too (and aren’t subject to the QAA)

 

The QAA overview report has fuller details on each of the UK universities inspected. The report covers 11 UK institutions but notes there are 37 campuses in total in the UAE, more than in any other country.

Distribution of the 37 branch campuses in UAE

Distribution of the 37 branch campuses in UAE

It seems that everyone with a branch campus also claims to be a global operation:

All the institutions considered in the TNE review of UAE had global aspirations. In many cases, the word global appears in their mission statements or the strap-lines on their websites. On the other hand, there was some evidence that institutions had not fully considered the organisational consequences of the global offering. In some cases heads of the UAE centres were physically located at the UK campus, even where the UAE operation was developing beyond the scale of an administrative campus. One of the branch campuses, otherwise highly successful in organisational terms, had only an indirect line into the governance and management of the university at large.

So perhaps some way to go there.

The student numbers set out in the report show that there is actually some variety in the UK university provision in UAE:

Student numbers UAE

Student numbers UAE

However, probably the most interesting aspect of the report is picked up in a report in the Times Higher Education which covers the warning in the QAA report over the definition of UK international branch campuses there:

UK universities must be careful not to mislead students about their “international branch campuses”, which are often little more than an office and teaching rooms, the standards watchdog has warned.In its first report on transnational education offered by UK universities in the United Arab Emirates, the Quality Assurance Agency says that only two of the 11 institutions listed as UK branch campuses would meet the definition of a “campus”.“Only two providers, Heriot-Watt and Middlesex, are readily recognisable as branch campuses [offering] the range of facilities a student would expect of a campus in the UK,” according to the Review of UK Transnational Education in United Arab Emirates, published on 4 June.For instance, the University of Exeter’s campus in Dubai comprises an office and a small self-service library, with teaching rooms hired when required, the QAA says.The University of Strathclyde’s Business School, which runs MBAs in Dubai, had no rooms of its own, using spaces within another higher education institution.

So, there really are some definitional problems here. A couple of offices or some rented teaching rooms in another institution do not a campus make. It will be interesting to see if the universities concerned change their descriptions of their activities following this report.

True Crime on Campus §36: one in the eye

True Crime on Campus:

Once again our always vigilant Security staff are on hand to ensure that every unlikely situation is attended to:

2240 Report of a smell of gas in Humanities Building. Security attended. Officers could detect a faint smell of gas which dissipated during the night.

1325 Report of blocked toilets in DHL. Security attended. Lanes for Drains were asked to attend but stated that they could not attend until 1 June, East Midlands Drains were called out they also could not attend until 1 June, Lilley’s called out and attended.

1625 Report of a person with a dog which was out of control on Jubilee Campus. Officers attempted to speak to the owner but they had left by the time Officers attended.

Suspicious

Careful!

16:30 Security received a complaint from a student who had been walking on the footpath at the front of the Fitness Centre, when a van reversed towards the main doors nearly running them over. The van driver did not take responsibility for his actions, telling the student that it was their fault. Pictures were taken of the van by the student. Security to follow up.

16:20 Security received a report of a male exiting campus through West Gate carrying a bicycle frame. On arrival Security identified the male as a student.

Wasp0040 Report of a buzzing noise in Hall Security attended the noise was thought to be Wasps. Mitie Pest Control to be informed in the morning.

 

1600 Report of a vehicle with a broken windscreen at Sutton Bonington Sports Centre. The owner of the vehicle claims it was broken by a football. Security Officers are to check the CCTV.

18:30Security received a report of a dead bird in the lake on Jubilee Campus. Helpdesk informed to remove the dead bird.

1610 Report of a student with a head injury in Hall. Security attended the student stated that they had banged their head on a locker door while at the Swimming Pool. The student’s head was examined and they were given advice by Officers.

2338 Patrol Security Officers spoke to the occupants of two vehicles which were parked in the car park adjacent to Law and Social Science. The occupants stated that they had parked there to watch the Helicopters. As there are no Helicopter flights during the hours of darkness the occupants were told to leave Campus.

Best seen in daylight

Best seen in daylight

23:55 Security received a report from the porter at Hall about a number of students running around the Hall having a water fight. Security stopped all students involved and took their details. Students were made to clear up the mess by Security. Details to Hall Manager. Security to follow up.

23:05 Security received a report of a student taking a book from the Hallward Library without authorisation. Security to follow up.

14:10 Security were informed by a member of the public that the bin located at the entrance to Melton Hall was on fire and smoking profusely. Security extinguished the fire with water.

1345 Report of a member of staff with peppermint in their eye on the Science Site. Security attended. The member of Staff washed their eye out and felt better.

0500 Report of a student urinating outside Hall. Security attended and the student was spoken to and will be reported to the Compliance and Investigations Manager.

 

 

International branch campuses: over-exposed?

 Are there too many branch campus headlines? Not quite.

A recent piece in University World News suggested that there was just too much attention given to international branch campuses rather than other forms of international activity:

International branch campuses receive a lot of attention for their motivations, successes and failures. In addition, some recent big-name endeavours like New York University Shanghai and Yale-NUS College in Singapore add to the perception that more institutions are building overseas campuses.

In reality, branch campuses form only a small proportion of the internationalisation activities and models of transnational education engaged in by institutions.

For example the United Kingdom, which has been promoting transnational education as part of its national strategy, reports that only 3% of its 600,000 students studying wholly overseas for a UK qualification in 2012-13 were enrolled in an overseas campus of a UK higher education institution.

In contrast, one out of five students pursued a UK degree through a distance learning programme.

If the goal of the global engagement strategy of a higher education institution is to be truly ‘global’ and to ‘engage’ learners from many countries in a cost-effective, controllable and flexible manner, then online and open learning cannot be ignored.

A recent report shows that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, is shaping its internationalisation future around its prior initiative like OpenCourseWare and now edX.

It forecasts a future where education will be unbundled and degrees will be disaggregated “into smaller credential units such as course credentials, sequence credentials, and even badges” with the possibility that “the credentialing entity may be different from the institution that offers the course”.

Leaving aside the tedious unbundling rhetoric it is right to observe that internationalisation is a multifaceted strategy for any university and there is much more to being a global university than just branch campuses. However, there are many such campuses around the world of many different kinds.

For example, the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus (UNMC) is home to some 5,000 students and over 450 staff, located at the edge of Kuala Lumpur in a breathtakingly beautiful setting and the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) campus houses over 6,000 students and over 400 staff). Both campuses are larger than a good number of UK HE institutions and are already, despite their relative youth (UNMC became the first overseas campus of any UK university some 14 years ago and UNNC was founded in 2004), they are already punching significantly above their weight in both research and teaching in their host countries.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

OBHE, in its most recent report, identifies some 200 or so branch campuses around the world with another 37 at least in the pipeline. It is likely that many more have been initiated since this report was published.

However, very few of these are of the scale, breadth or depth of the Nottingham developments and many are much smaller scale operations with teaching delivered in rented office accommodation by staff who fly in for a few weeks before flying back home again.

The reality is that despite their scale and success these campuses really do not get much attention. Rather the nascent developments of NYU in Abu Dhabi and Duke University in China seem to grab all the headlines despite their small scale. (Not that I’m at all cross about that.) This does therefore give a rather misleading impression of international branch campus activity.

Britain’s global university

Nottingham actually has three international campuses at present; as well as those in China and Malaysia there is the original campus in the UK which is also strikingly international with over 9,000 international students from 150+ countries. The international ethos is embraced in all that we do and is strongly articulated in the University’s mission:

At the University of Nottingham we are committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring our students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around our campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia. Our purpose is to improve life for individuals and societies worldwide. By bold innovation and excellence in all that we do, we make both knowledge and discoveries matter.

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Our academic staff on all campuses are international in composition (25% are international) and outlook too. More than one in five of our undergraduates undertakes international mobility. 17% of published research outputs are internationally co-authored and 37% of our research funding is obtained internationally. We have strategic partnerships with other leading universities in over 25 countries and one of the largest scholarship programmes for students from the developing world. And we do distance learning and offer a number of MOOCs too.

So, there is a lot more to an international university than just branch campuses but, in context, it is clear that serious international campus activity can be a key component of a global strategy for a university. If only they got a bit more attention.

 

 

Universities gripped by puppy mania

 Puppies for relaxation

It’s exam time and I’ve written before here about the advent of the puppy room as a means of addressing exam stress. All parts of the media seem to have got rather excited about this and other stress-busting approaches as this  BBC News story demonstrates:

 

Can be used for other purposes too

Can be used for other purposes too

University students have ordered hundreds of metres of bubble wrap to burst as a way of relieving exam stress.

The University of Leicester students’ union is planning “bubble wrap stations” where students can relax by popping the packaging material.

Puppies will also be brought in to soothe stressed-out students.

Michael Rubin, president elect of the students’ union, said “mental well-being is a top priority” during exams.

The students claim that the instant gratification of popping bubble wrap is a better relaxant than meditation or yoga.

Petting zoos

There will also be a more traditional form of emergency support, with free tea on offer.

“We know how stressful exams can be,” says Mr Rubin.

Nia Phillips, a media and sociology student, says many students “may feel too ashamed to speak out about exam stress”.

And she says that public events aimed at reducing stress can help students “without having to announce to anyone how they’re feeling”.

Petting zoos have become a feature of stress-busting during university exams.

 

puppies

Whilst there is perhaps an element of faddishness about this there is certainly a lot to be said for the approach and it does seem popular with students. Be prepared for the backlash though. It’s likely that for every student looking to relax with a puppy there will be another one outside demonstrating against animal cruelty.

Still, it’s something for the media to focus on before it’s time for the traditional A level fuss.

For straightforward (animal free) exam advice there is plenty about such as this University of Nottingham page.

 

 

Skills not swimming

Alternatives to physical education tests


A previous post reported on the reduction in the number of swimming tests
or other physical education assessments which formed part of graduation requirements at US universities.

Now Inside Higher Ed has a report on another university, Notre Dame, “a sports juggernaut”, which is making the shift too:

The university announced last week that freshmen will soon have to take two graded, one-credit courses on topics like wellness, academic strategies and spirituality instead of having to complete a year of physical education courses – for which there are a range of options – and pass a swim test.

An end to all this?

An end to all this?

The new first-year program, in place by fall 2015, will try to fill gaps in “student socialization,” “cultural competency” and independent learning with 250-student lecture courses and smaller breakout sessions in residence halls, according a report from the committee that recommended the change this month.

As a result of the shift, the department of physical education and wellness instruction – which includes about 13 non-tenure-track faculty – will close. The provost’s office will “work closely with those impacted to explore other opportunities for on-campus employment and to develop appropriate transitional strategies,” according to the report.

The report also refers to a recent study on the decline in required physical education at US universities from almost all having it as a graduation requirement down to just 39%. To those of us in the UK, where to the best of my knowledge no university has such a requirement, this still seems like remarkably large proportion. I have to say though I do think the alternative being introduced by Notre Dame sounds very interesting indeed.