Dark Arts: Gothic Studies

There's a Centre for Gothic Studies. Scary.A couple of years ago I noted the launch of an MA in Horror and Transgression at the University of Derby. This followed on from posts on some other rather niche offers including  a zombie course at the University of Baltimore and a course covering Lady Gaga. Now this has all been taken … Continue reading Dark Arts: Gothic Studies

Developing higher education in Kurdistan

Vital developments in an emerging nation. Back in 2009 one of the University of Nottingham's senior academics took on an unusual new role. Professor Dlawer Ala'Aldeen was appointed as Higher Education Minister and began to draw up plans to improve the quality of and to internationalise higher education in Kurdistan. The post-Saddam university system he … Continue reading Developing higher education in Kurdistan

True Crime on Campus §32: not vending

All new True Crime on Campus. More extracts from real Security reports. The challenges are never ending for our hard working and extremely helpful Security staff: 21:20 Security received a report of an alarm activation at the Blackwells Bookshop on Jubilee Campus. On investigation, all of the doors were secure and the cause of the … Continue reading True Crime on Campus §32: not vending

Britain’s lowest price degree course?

Asda is launching an undergraduate degree - will it be Asda price? Some time ago I posted on a story about Asda's parent company Wal-Mart and its partnership with a for-profit online education provider in the US. More recently we learned that Morrisons was to offer a degree course to some of its staff. Now … Continue reading Britain’s lowest price degree course?

Who matters most on campus?

Who are the VIPs at your university? We all like to think we are indispensable. However, this is rarely the case. I sometimes worry the place will grind to a halt when I go on holiday.  It does seem though that things often progress just fine when I'm away (for a brief period, anyway). So … Continue reading Who matters most on campus?

The Imperfect University: Mobility Matters

A re-post of an earlier piece on the importance of mobility for the development of professional services staff.


The Imperfect University: Staff getting on their bikes

One of the things professional services colleagues sometimes complain about is that whereas  academic staff can be promoted in post – and indeed can progress all the way from lecturer to professor in the same academic department – they can’t. Instead to advance their careers administrators have to move – either elsewhere in the institution or to another university. This is often presented as a problem whereas I have to say I think it is much more of a positive position. Whilst there is something to be said for having people in post in administrative roles in central or academic departments who know their jobs inside out, who carry a sense of the institutional history and provide the continuity between rotating professors as heads of department, there is also a difficulty in such longevity in one particular role. Essentially the challenge is…

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Celebrity tutors

Hong Kong's got (teaching) talent. Following a recent post on Oprah in the classroom, the New York Times has a great piece on Celebrity Tutors in Hong Kong: Advertisements for star tutors in Hong Kong can be seen all over here: on billboards that loom over highways and on the exteriors of shopping malls. Invariably, … Continue reading Celebrity tutors

Guns on (US) Campuses

Should we be pleased? Students Oppose Concealed-Carry Gun Policy on Campuses The Chronicle of Higher Education has a report on a new survey which suggests most students are against the idea of people being allowed to carry concealed guns on campus. As state legislatures continue to debate whether to allow people to carry concealed firearms … Continue reading Guns on (US) Campuses

The Imperfect University: The Cult of Efficiency

A reminder about Callaghan’s excellent book ‘Education and the Cult of Efficiency’


The cult of efficiency

I’ve recently been reminded about a great book recommended to me by my former supervisor, Nigel Norris. Half a century since its publication it remains a fascinating read and sits midpoint between two eras of educational change which, perhaps surprisingly, seem to have a lot in common. (Note that a large part of what follows is taken from my book Dangerous Medicine: Problems with quality and standards in UK higher education which is available for Kindle via Amazon at what I’m sure we’d all agree is a very competitive price.)

Callahan’s book, Education and the Cult of Efficiency, published in 1962 offers a salutary warning about the hazards of imposing inappropriate models in education. When I first looked at this I was interested in the ways in which industrial quality assurance frameworks seemed to be enthusiastically adopted by some in higher education with little regard…

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A ‘University in a Box’ in Rwanda

More educational innovation in Africa. Earlier this year I posted about the initiative by Kenyatta University to establish a campus in Dadaab, a huge refugee camp filled with Somali refugees. A fantastic initiative, also supported by some Canadian universities, which I am still hoping will be followed by UK universities. More recently, The Chronicle of Higher … Continue reading A ‘University in a Box’ in Rwanda

Save universities from more misguided regulation

Well-meaning but fundamentally wrong proposals for yet more regulation Just when you thought things couldn't get much worse in terms of higher education regulation, another group comes along and proposes a whole load more. Brilliant. (I've posted before here on this issue.) I've not seen the report yet (it is due to be published today) … Continue reading Save universities from more misguided regulation

Working with Young Carers

New activities to support young and young adult carers. The University of Nottingham's Impact Campaign is supporting a range of activities involving work with young and young adult carers. Britain’s ‘invisible army’ of young carers and young adult carers provide unpaid care to family members. As well as caring for loved ones who are ill, … Continue reading Working with Young Carers

THE World University Rankings 2013-14

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are out The final ranking of the season is now available from THE. More details of the methodology and regional and subject variations are available on the THE rankings site. Are they "the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry … Continue reading THE World University Rankings 2013-14

Building community in university halls

Interesting ideas for growing community in halls of residence. An interesting essay in Inside Higher Ed calls for a more ambitious concept for residential life. The argument is that halls of residence provide the ideal location for developing students' civic learning. The benefits include preparing them for life in an ever more challenging world: The next … Continue reading Building community in university halls