True crime on campus §10

More true crime on campus

More extracts from campus security reports. Some innocent, some silly and some just a bit odd. Our outstanding Security staff have to deal with just about everything.

1445 Report of a smell of burning coming from the Kitchen in L Block Derby Hall. Security and the Fire Service attended. On arrival it was discovered that a microwave had been placed on a cooking hob which was on. The Microwave had started to melt. The Safety Office is to be informed.

This will make it to the Olympics one day

2230 Report of noise coming from the Quidditch Match being played at the rear of Lincoln Hall. Security attended and spoke to the players.

2340 A Student observed two males attempting to steal the television from Sherwood Hall JCR. The offenders, knowing they had been seen, left the Hall and ran off campus. A number of students attempted to follow the offenders. Security conducted a search of the campus and surrounding area but the offenders could not be located. Police have been informed, Security are to follow up.

2010 Report of noise coming from room at Kings Meadow Campus. Security attended, the room was checked and the noise was thought to be a freezer. Checks were made later during night to ensure there were no issues in the area.

1945 Officer observed a male acting suspiciously on Melton Lane adjacent to the new greenhouse development. Officer challenged the male who became abusive and aggressive. Security Officers were asked to attend. The male explained that he was a plane spotter and was using the dark on Melton Lane to get clear footage of the incoming planes.

2045 Report of a student with a cut to his face in the Portland Building. Security Officers attended and gave First Aid. The student reported that he had been playing Hide and Seek as part of an event with the Hide and Soc Society when he had banged his face while hiding behind a chair. An accident form will be submitted.

Cover your eyes – another frightening course emerges from the crypt

Seriously scary

Have posted before about some rather leftfield programmes, including a zombie course at the University of Baltimore and, more recently, a course covering Lady Gaga. Also previously looked here at the launch of an MA in Beatles Studies and the offer of a degree in Northern Studies as well as offering a podcast on “bonkers or niche” degrees. But now, not for the faint-hearted, there is a new MA in horror and transgression at Derby.

Bit of a shocker?

BBC News reports that students will learn about the history of horror on screen and in books while the transgression part of the course will focus on “films and literature with disturbing and taboo themes”:

Students at the University of Derby are being offered a taste of the dark side with a new degree in horror.

Ghosts, serial killers and vampires will all feature in the university’s new postgraduate MA in horror and transgression.

The one-year course, which is aimed at would-be film-makers and writers, will examine all aspects of the genre.

British horror author and director Clive Barker has given the degree his backing and hopes to take a class.

It’s a novel proposition in an area that does seem under-explored. The university has had pretty widespread media coverage for this. Let’s hope it doesn’t scare away prospective students (sorry).

Auditing University Rankings

Holding league tables to account?

The Chronicle reports that there are to be some new rules to govern university league tables. The proposals were announced recently in Paris at the Unesco Global Forum, “Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses.” This Forum, which gave voice to lots of concerns about ranking methodologies, concluded with the adoption of some “Audit Rules”:

The new Ranking Audit Rules were adopted by the executive committee of the International Ranking Expert Group’s (or IREG’s) Observatory on Ranking and Excellence, which announced that it was working on an evaluation system, or audit, at its meeting last fall in Berlin.

“The purpose of an audit, conducted by independent academic teams, will be to verify if a ranking under review was done professionally, and observes good practices, providing students, their parents and employers with information allowing them to compare and assess programs offered by higher-education institutions,” according to the ranking group’s press release.

Rankings will be reviewed on a voluntary basis and any rankings organization can ask to be audited. Those that pass what the group describes as its “robust evaluation” will be able to certify their ranking system as “IREG approved.” The new audit system, for which the first results will be published this fall, is intended to “enhance the transparency of rankings, give users of rankings a tool to identify trustworthy rankings, and improve the quality of rankings.”

So, will the league table compilers submit themselves to this regime? And will the designation “IREG approved” have any currency?

Sing Sing – fundraising for Mamelodi

Sing Sing

Selina Mwenifumbo and Shaunna Francis, two pupils at Nottingham University Samworth Academy, have written, recorded and released this song to raise money for the Mamelodi Trust in South Africa. It’s available for download on iTunes for 79p and every penny will go to the Mamelodi Trust, which raises money for schools in the squatter camps in Mamelodi, near Pretoria. All money raised by the end of July will be match-funded by the University Development Office.

The NUSA pupils were commissioned to produce the single by The University of Nottingham’s Academy Project Unit which co-ordinates a range of academic and social links between the school and University departments. The University has long-established links with South Africa through its School of Education, which fundraises for Mamelodi and operates a graduate teacher placement scheme in the township.

Mamelodi is a former black township with a population of about one million people on the north eastern outskirts of Pretoria. Many people in this area live in small brick-built homes, but there are also huge makeshift settlements where people, many of whom are refugees from neighbouring Zimbabwe, have built their own shacks from corrugated iron and plastic sheets. Apartheid was responsible for starving the townships of decent quality education, allowing extreme poverty, high unemployment and a whole range of socio-economic problems which will take many years to eradicate.

Further details here and preview of Sing Sing and download available here. It is well worth buying.

Stanford Adds Alumni Interviews

One of those big differences between US and UK universities

Inside Higher Ed carries a piece on alumni interviews:

Alumni interviews have for decades been part of the admissions process at elite private colleges. Their role has sometimes frustrated applicants, and left them guessing about strategies. Over the years, the process has also annoyed many alumni.


"Enough about you, let me tell you about when I was a student here..."

A 2002 article in The New York Times quoted a Cornell University alumnus talking about how all of the candidates seem the same: “If I see another valedictorian, I may throw up.” And Cornell doesn’t even call the sessions “interviews,” preferring the term “contact meeting” to stress that the alumni aren’t deciding who gets in. Still, alumni interviews are the norm at elite colleges — with a more common complaint of alumni of late, as documented recently by Bloomberg, being that they don’t have enough influence to make the interviews worth their time.

So, Stanford has joined in after standing apart from others for some time. It’s really just not clear why.

But could it happen in the UK? Mass applications would effectively prevent this as they have already killed off interviews in most subjects and institutions. But even if interviewing was still a common feature, would you involve alumni in the process?

Latest Guardian University League Table for 2012

New Guardian League Table for 2012

Top 20 of the full list (available here) is as follows (last year’s position in brackets):

1 (2) Cambridge
2 (1) Oxford
3 (4) St Andrews
4 (8) London School of Economics
5 (5) UCL
6 (3) Warwick
7 (6) Lancaster
8 (17) Durham
9 (9) Loughborough
10 (7) Imperial
11 (15) Sussex
11 (14) Exeter
13 (11) SOAS
14 (13) Bath
15 (9) York
16 (15) Edinburgh
17 (12) Leicester
18 (19) UEA
19 (21) Nottingham
19 (20) Surrey

The summary of the outcomes from the Guardian offers a few pointers to bigger changes within the overall table, particularly in the middle and bottom, but there really isn’t much movement at all inside the top 20 this year. Apart of course from the big news about the Oxbridge swap at the top, the only departure from the top 20 is Southampton with Nottingham slipping in at 19 to replace it. UEA remains following a dramatic climb last year, Lancaster is still in the top 10 and Durham rises to 8th place.

Other than that, as you were.

Criteria used

The Guardian is heavily focused on teaching-related indicators and in particular NSS outcomes. The full set of indicators they use are:

• Teaching quality, as rated by final-year students in the national student survey (NSS): percentage of students satisfied.

• Feedback and assessment, as rated by final-year students in the NSS: percentage of students satisfied.

• NSS results when final-year students were asked about the overall quality of their course.

• Spending per student – given as a banded score out of 10.

• Staff-student ratio: number of students per member of teaching staff.

• Career prospects: proportion of graduates who find graduate-level employment, or study full-time, within six months of graduation.

• Value added: comparing students’ individual degree results with their entry qualifications – given as a banded score out of 10. This helps to show the effectiveness of teaching at an institution – the extent to which a department helps students to exceed expectation.

• Entry qualifications (Ucas tariff score).

iPhones and iPads on Campus

The search for killer apps goes on

Follow up to an earlier post on Abilene Christian University providing iPhones to all students and a follow up on implementation a year later. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a conference looking at the use being made of smartphones and tablets in different parts of university business, again drawing on Abilene’s experiment:

At Abilene Christian, one of the most popular uses of iPhones has been to turn the devices into so-called “clickers,” using an app that lets students use their phones during classes to buzz in answers to quiz questions or discussion prompts. But even fans of that approach acknowledge that turning classes into something like a game show is not appropriate for every subject, and that a clicker app makes more sense in large lecture classes than in small seminars.

The simple answer is that no one “killer app” has emerged that fits every professor’s teaching style, every research discipline, or every administrative office on campus, according to several people who attended the meeting. (And of course, many professors have no interest in the smartphone craze—at Abilene Christian some professors turned down free iPhones.)

Instead, college professors around the country are finding unique ways to use smartphones, as well as highly portable tablet computers like the iPad, that work well in certain situations but do not represent a revolution in educational practice. At least not yet.

So, no killer app but does there need to be? As the remainder of the article notes, there are many ways this technology can be used to enhance the student experience, to help with classroom delivery and to support university professional services. There is a vast range of possibilities and it is this, rather than any single app, which is perhaps the most exciting thing.

The difficulties of leading via Twitter

A Cautionary Tale: “A College Unfriends Its Social-Networking President”

The Chronicle of Higher Education carries a fascinating story about a new breed of institutional leader seeking to engage through twitter. Unfortunately, not everyone at the college seems to be fully bought in:

John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, may be the only college president to publicly describe his leadership as “in beta,” a product rolled out before it’s fully tested.

He’s tinkered with using social media to connect with constituents on and off campus. He’s blogged, posted video messages on YouTube, and tweeted more than any other college president. (He has more than 175,000 Twitter followers.)

He even has a new book due out this month, called Redesigning Leadership (MIT Press), relating scenes from his three years at RISD and samples of his tweets. One example: “When people ask if I’ve stopped designing I say, ‘No. I’m designing how to talk about/with/for our #RISD community.'”

But many professors at the art school do not appreciate being part of Mr. Maeda’s high-tech experiment in leadership. In March, more than 80 percent of faculty members voted “no confidence” in his performance. To them, all that tweeting feels more like distraction than engagement.

A cautionary tale perhaps for senior university tweeters. But don’t think anyone in UKHE has as many followers as John Maeda. It must be a bigger college than you’d think.

University “cheating league table”

A rather dubious league table

The Telegraph has a story based on reported incidences of plagiarism which it describes as an:

investigation into cheating at universities, with thousands of students caught plagiarising, trying to bribe lecturers and buying essays from the internet.

As noted in a previous post this issue is really about improved detection rather than a greater prevalence of cheats.

But, anyway, given that they’ve gone to all this effort, you might like to know that the top 10 looks like this:

2005/06 2009/10
Greenwich 540 838
Sheffield Hallam 117 801
Kingston n/a 799
Westminster 840 749
East London n/a 733
Central Lancashire n/a 642
Leeds Metropolitan 157 532
Wolverhampton 360 498
Coventry 74 428
Middlesex 289 425

Bottom of the table

2005/06 2009/10
Dundee 0 0
Cambridge n/a 1
Bristol 3 2
Abertay Dundee 19 5
Durham 2 5
City 4 7
Leicester 0 8
Oxford 11 12
Essex n/a 18
Birmingham 15 20
Sheffield n/a 20

Which, of course, proves absolutely nothing other than that different institutions have different ways of recording, reporting and dealing with plagiarism.

Campus extremism ‘a serious problem’

And a threat to UK security, it seems

BBC News carries the story which arises from the first report of the new Homeland Security Committee:

Campus extremism is a “serious problem” that threatens UK security, a group of MPs and peers has said.

There are “grave concerns” students are being radicalised in British universities, according to a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security.

The problem should be tackled “with utmost urgency”, the group says.

The report is available here and, whilst it may have much that is interesting and important, seem rather wide of the mark in relation to universities. Again, according to the BBC report:

It says: “The problem of universities as places of radicalisation requires urgent and sustained attention by the new government.

“It has been an obvious and neglected problem for too long and must be tackled as a matter of utmost urgency.”

But the Committee received evidence from only a handful of academics and seems perhaps to be excessively influenced by one or two individuals who have asserted that there really is a major problem with radicalisation at universities. There isn’t, and there isn’t any evidence here or anywhere else to suggest this is the case. And it really is not very helpful for universities to be described in this way.

True Crime on Campus §9

More True Crime from the University of Nottingham

A few of these show the unfortunate effects of excessive alcohol consumption and the resulting challenges for our ever-patient Security team:

2302 Security were called to a report of a fight at Hugh Stewart Hall on arrival those responsible were identified. The Police also attended but no one wished to make a complaint so those involved were allowed to leave. Due to the amount of drunken people at Hugh Stewart Hall Security remained at the Hall until 0200. The Security Supervisor was informed that conference organisers had put a large amount of money behind the bar for those present to use for the purchase of drinks. At 0100 the Security Officers who remained at the Hall were informed by the Hall Porter of a large amount of noise coming from one of the Hall Blocks. Security attended and spoke to the occupants of a room and asked them to keep the noise down. At 0145 the Security Officers who remained at the Hall heard a lot of music and noise coming from a block those involved had been spoken to earlier. The Security Officers had verbal abuse shouted at them by students who were also shouting “VISION EXPRESS”. The Warden is to be informed.

2355 Report of a blocked drain Ancaster Hall Lanes for Drains called out.
1015 Grounds Staff called out to pull a Lanes for Drains vehicle off the Grass adjacent to Ancaster Hall.

1300 Report of males with dogs Hare Coursing on University land adjacent to the Sutton Bonington Campus. Security attended and told the males to leave.


14:20 Routine Security patrol found that windows on LG at Trent had all of the putty removed. Security secured the rooms. Help desk notified.

2040 Report of a white van acting suspiciously at Lenton and Wortley Hall Security attended the area was checked the vehicle was not found.

0035 Report of noise coming from Rutland Hall Security attended and identified two female conference delegates who were making the noise. They were spoken to by Security Officers. The details of the matter were passed on to the organisers of the conference.

2220 Security were called to Newark Hall to a Student who was unwell. On arrival, Security Officers found a male Student collapsed in the JCR toilets covered in vomit with a head injury and a broken wrist. It would appear that the student was in the act of vomiting when he fell forwards into the toilet bowl. An Ambulance was called and attended and the student was taken to the QMC. The Warden is to be informed.

0115 An Ambulance arrived at Jubilee Campus to go to Newark Hall. Security attended. A student from the Hall had called 999 for an Ambulance as he had drunk too much alcohol and was feeling unwell. He was checked by the Ambulance crew who confirmed that he was drunk. The Student was left to go back into the Hall the Warden is to be informed.