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:
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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.

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Dead wood

Not very environmentally friendly

Back in April 2008 I planted a tree at Lenton Rec as a mark of the University’s sponsorship of the park. There was lots of other activity too as part of the support for Nottingham in Bloom.

The report on the event includes a comment from the University’s Off-Camous Student Affairs Manager, Melanie Futer:

“There is a lot of pride in the fact that the Recreation Ground is a Green Flag award-winning park and our hope is that by enhancing it still further we can encourage more people to use the park this summer and in the years to come,” said Melanie.

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Me. Beside the tree (still alive at this point) [picture from the Parkviews blog ]

The Council was equally positive:

Councillor Malcolm Wood, Chair of the Nottingham in Bloom Working Group, said: “This new sponsorship will bring benefits specifically to the people of Lenton, who live alongside many of the University’s students and who enjoy the park all year round.”

A further comprehensive report on the event can be found on the Parkviews blog 

Lenton Rec is still sponsored by the University and heavily used by students. Whilst the rest of the park looks great, unfortunately, the tree did not prosper, despite my expert digging. That was the first, and I fear the last, time I’ve been asked to plant a tree.

It is an ex-tree. It has ceased to be.

Sorry about that everyone.

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 generation is going to inherit a world filled with civic challenges. In addition to the usual challenges of community building, they will inherit communities struggling under the weight of large social and political institutions that are not up to the task of the modern era. They also will inherit communities grappling with complex global issues manifesting themselves as local problems, including a lack of jobs, water shortages, and racial/ethnic/religious divisions.

To meet their civic responsibilities, our students will need the capacity to thrive in diverse environments, embrace change as a daily reality, think outside boxes and across categories, and possess a mix of personal attributes, including humility, confidence, persistence, empathy, and communication and conflict negotiation skills. Residential halls are great places for some of this learning to occur.

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All fair enough and difficult to argue with. But there are some significant steps required in order to deliver this:

To transform our residence halls into sites for civic learning, we would need to de-layer our halls of rules and processes. We would move away from approaches where professionals act on people — and move toward civic approaches, where residential hall leaders understand the art of coaching students to engage in community building. We would take an experiential approach, giving students space and time to learn by doing. Sometimes our students would get it wrong. This would lead to some messiness and, often, to some conflict. We would see these as positive learning moments and not messy moments to be avoided.

All of this would require some give and take across the campus. In tight budget times, we would be asking a range of constituencies to support an intentional channeling of resources to residence halls as educational sites that complement and leverage learning elsewhere. We also would be asking our residential hall staff to embrace new ways of thinking, including giving up some of the rules and processes.

These are interesting ideas but perhaps not that radical. Indeed this really doesn’t seem very far away from Ernest Boyer’s Principles of Community as set out over 20 years ago. However all that messiness may be a bit too much to handle and the need to sustain a sound framework for both support and discipline just to ensure that life can go on normally may militate at times against this kind of experimentation.

Getting off my bike…

A rather challenging ride for a very good cause

As previously noted here I faced a major cycling challenge on Sunday as part of Life Cycle 3:

During the last two summers a team from the University of Nottingham led by our Vice-Chancellor cycled ridiculously long distances to raise money for good causes. The team did not include me and they have sensibly overlooked me again as they cycle round the capital cities of the British Isles, starting and ending up in Nottingham. However, I am joining them on September 1st for the last leg of the journey, from Nevill Holt in Leicestershire back to the University, a mere 55 miles.

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The Life Cycle 3 website has full details of the latest adventure which this year is raising money for stroke rehabilitation research. Stroke is the commonest cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Around 130,000 people suffer a stroke every year. A third will die; a third will make a full recovery; a third will suffer serious disability. No age group is immune – an average of six children under 16 suffer a stroke each week. Experts from The University of Nottingham are leading the way in stroke rehabilitation research. The work addresses the often neglected needs of stroke survivors following hospital care, and the need for stroke specialist provision of rehabilitation at home.

Anyway, I made it. I think it turned out to be a bit more than 56 miles and the headwind was pretty strong for much of the way. And there were some pretty tough (for me at least) hills.

It was great to join with 150 other leg riders on the route and to offer support to the Life Cycle team led by the Vice-Chancellor. I realise mine was a pretty modest effort but do please consider supporting me and donating via this Just Giving site. My pedalling came to an end for a while at least last weekend but do please join the others who have been kind enough to sponsor me and support this very worthwhile cause.

And for those who are interested here is part of the playlist I enjoyed en route.

With many thanks

Paul

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Getting on my bike…

A shortish ride for a very good cause

During the last two summers a team from the University of Nottingham led by our Vice-Chancellor cycled ridiculously long distances to raise money for good causes. The team did not include me and they have sensibly overlooked me again as they cycle round the capital cities of the British Isles, starting and ending up in Nottingham. However, I am joining them on September 1st for the last leg of the journey, from Nevill Holt in Leicestershire back to the University, a mere 55 miles.

MoreaboutLC2-Cropped-714x355

The Life Cycle 3 website has full details of the latest adventure which this year is raising money for stroke rehabilitation research. Stroke is the commonest cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Around 130,000 people suffer a stroke every year. A third will die; a third will make a full recovery; a third will suffer serious disability. No age group is immune – an average of six children under 16 suffer a stroke each week. Experts from The University of Nottingham are leading the way in stroke rehabilitation research. The work addresses the often neglected needs of stroke survivors following hospital care, and the need for stroke specialist provision of rehabilitation at home.

I realise mine is a pretty modest effort but do please consider supporting me and donating via this Just Giving site. My pedalling won’t be nearly as impressive as the team cycling for the best part of a fortnight but it will be hard work nevertheless.

With many thanks

Paul

The Tony Rich Lecture

The Impact of Universities on their Regions

I was fortunate to attend this event last week.

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Richard Muir of IPPR was first to speak and drew heavily on the recent IPPR report (with a rather dodgy title): “Beyond bricks and mortar boards”. Focusing largely on the local economic impact of universities he suggested that the centralisation of economic development policy and the shutdown of the RDAs would have a real impact on regional growth. He also noted:

  • The multiplier of HE spend locally is singificant – £1m university output generates £1.38m in the wider economy
  • There is no direct relationship between economic strength and graduate retention in a region
  • Universities have a key role in facilitating the ‘innovation ecosystem’
  • The number of university start ups does appear dispiritingly small.

Muir concluded by stressing that the IPPR had lots of suggestions for ways in which universities can contribute to local economic development.

David Allen supported much of what Richard Muir had said and quoted a recent comment from Alan Langlands on the contribution of universities to growth and their place in communities. Allen noted that a recent research study had confirmed that international students at Exeter University support over 3,000 jobs in the South West. Moreover the economic impact of the university overall was more than 40 times that of the anticipated benefit of the new John Lewis store in Exeter. Unfortuantely, all the headlines go to the shop.

John Hogan described how his University was ‘hand in glove’ with the city of Newcastle. As an example he cited the huge contribution the University had made to the redevelopment of what is now a hugely popular museum in Newcastle. According to Hogan cities want everything that universities provide. Except possibly the students. In describing the links between a university and city Hogan also referred to Temple Chevallier, the improbably named first Registrar of the University of Durham. He was an extraordinary man as the Wikipedia entry shows:

Educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he was ordained a priest in 1818. He became a Fellow of Pembroke College a year later. He was a Fellow and Tutor of Catharine Hall (St Catharine’s College, Cambridge) in 1820 and Hulsean lecturer in Divinity from 1826 to 1827.[1]

His lectures were published as Of the proofs of the divine power and wisdom derived from the study of astronomy in 1835.

That same year, Chevallier was invited to become Professor of Astronomy at the newly-founded University of Durham. A chair of Mathematics and Astronomy existed at the University of Durham between 1841–1871; Chevallier was the one to hold this post. He also served as Reader in Hebrew 1835-1871, Registrar 1835-1865, and from 1834-1835 also assisted with lectures in Divinity.

He was instrumental in establishing the Durham University Observatory (in 1839), serving as its Director for thirty years, and from which he made important observations of Jupiter’s moons and regular meteorological observations. From 1835 until his death, he also served as perpetual Parish Priest at Esh, just outside Durham, where he founded the village school and restored the church.

He also has a crater on the moon named after him. A great set of contributions.

Tony Rich is in this league. But without the beard, obviously. The speakers were followed by some warm tributes, led by Chris Cobb, to Tony’s huge contributions to higher education and to his work for AUA  and AHUA.

Tributes too to Jonathan Nicholls who ran the London Marathon to raise money in Tony’s name for cancer research at the University of Bristol. All in all a terrific event and a great deal of warmth, affection and respect for Tony’s work in the sector.

(Footnote: there were five of us tweeting at the event (you know who you are) and, bizarrely, we were all clustered together. This newly observed phenomenon has been named after Chris Hallas and #hallaslaw will be tested further at future events.)

Launch of the Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham

The Impact Campaign launches today at the University

 


 

A rather different focus here on the blog for the next few days. The University of Nottingham is launching a significant and important campaign today:

About the campaign:

By helping us to raise £150 million over the next five years you will be supporting a series of high-impact projects on the local, national and global stage.

Across five campaign themes these projects will have a positive and lasting influence on society. We want to make an impact that will touch generations. So join with us and contribute to securing an ambitious and sustainable future.

 

The campaign is key to the long term ambitions of the University in looking to deliver outstanding research outputs, impactful knowledge transfer and the best possible experience for our students. I’m enormously proud to be a supporter of the campaign and to be part of this important development at the University. It should be a great launch week.

More details can be found on the Impact campaign site.

True Crime on Campus §11

More true crime on campus: traffic trouble

Some further reports of the incidents to which our excellent Security staff have to respond. This particular set are all of a kind (apart from the last one):

15:45 Security were called to Landcroft Lane as a student’s horsebox with a horse on board had lost a wheel. Security went to assist and the student called the breakdown service.

0715 Report of a vehicle with its engine running in Willoughby Close. The vehicle did not appear to have anyone in it. Security attended and found the driver asleep on the back seat. They stated they were visiting their sister who was a Student but there was no space in her room to sleep.

13:30 Theft of a wheel from the Jubilee cycle store. Student advised to contact the Police. Security to follow.
11:25 Exit barrier at West Entrance knocked off by Nottingham City Transport Bus. Helpdesk informed.

02:55 Security noticed a driver of a moped acting suspiciously as it passed Security on Beeston lane. A registration number was obtained and Security caught up with it at the bottom of Cripps Hill. The moped then sped off after going around the QMC Island. The moped had no rear lights. A description was obtained and the Police informed. Security to follow up.

1930 Report of a mini motorcycle being ridden around L4 Security attended the rider was spoken to and found to be a member of staff. He stated that he thought it would be ok as the University was private property. Security Staff stated that it was private property however the motorcycle breaches the University Traffic Regulations and cannot be ridden on campus.

17:50 While on Patrol Security had to stop a car for driving too fast on campus. The driver was aggressive to security. Security to follow up.

1600 Report of a youth on a motorcycle causing a nuisance on the grassed areas adjacent to DHL Security attended and the area was checked but no one was found.

1130 Patrol Security Officer at Jubilee Campus observed a vehicle parked causing an obstruction adjacent to Melton Hall. The Officer went up to the vehicle when he observed that the vehicle was occupied and that the occupants were having sex in the rear of the vehicle. The Officer alerted the occupants to his presence and, when they were dressed, he warned them about the parking and behaviour.

True Crime on campus – the US version

True Crime from the USA

A series of True Crime on Campus posts has highlighted some of the strange goings on around the University of Nottingham that our Security Team have to deal with. Nottingham is far from unique though and similar reports are regularly carried in the Chronicle. Some examples of these, published earlier this year, follow:

1:17 p.m., September 13

Suspicious person: Complaint of a male subject, 30′s-40′s, wearing a suit jacket and holding a Bible while yelling at people between Luther Bonney and Payson Smith Halls. Officer responded and is familiar with the subject. Advised to lower his voice.

5:19 p.m., September 16

Welfare check. Report of a lady sitting in Bailey Hall who asked whether it was “safe to sit here.” Officer responded and spoke with the lady who is waiting for daughter to get out of class. All set.

12:08 p.m., September 21

Disturbance. The preacher is on campus yelling and interrupting students studying outside Luther Bonney Hall. Officer responded and issued a trespass notice for the Portland campus. The preacher will have to speak with the Student Life office.

4:38 p.m.

Suspicious person. Male subject has been sleeping in the middle stairwell of Payson Smith Hall for several hours. Officer responded and spoke with the subject who has a six hour wait between classes. Advised to wait in the 1st floor common area.

8:57 a.m., September 27

Theft complaint. Report of the theft of reading glasses from several offices in Wischcamper Center for the Muskie School. Officer responded and took a report.

Interesting. But not as good as ours.

True Crime on Campus §5

True Crime on Campus

The fifth instalment in a series of items extracted from university security reports. These are all real reports and highlight the varied nature of the challenges faced by our indefatigable security staff:

0845 Request for Security to attend an office in Trent Building. A member of staff had a pigeon in his office, which would not leave. Security attended and the pigeon was escorted from the building.

07:20 Whilst patrolling the campus Security Officers observed a man slashing at foliage with a golf club. Security spoke to the gentleman and asked him not to continue.

22:30 Security attended Archaeology and Classics Building where a fire alarm had been activated. A ‘Haze’ machine/smoke dispenser had been used in the ground floor theatre and the performers/students had forgotten to close the door, which had activated the alarm. Security ensured the ‘smoke’ was cleared and reset the alarm.

12.05 Report of a person trapped in a lift in the Medical School. It appears that the lift was being worked on by engineers when a person entered the lift car without the engineers being aware. The Fire Service were called to release the person as he was keen to use the toilet.

00:40 Security received a report from a member of the public that 3 males were fishing in the lake at the front of the Exchange Building at Jubilee Campus. Security attended and, after checking that they had no fish on them, moved them on.

23.50 Report of a suspicious vehicle parked at the rear of Cripps Hall with its engine running. Security attended and on approaching the vehicle a male and female emerged from the back seat in a state of undress. They apologized and after getting dressed left campus.

21.15 Report of a group of students with a pig’s head being offensive in a hall of residence. Security stopped the group and removed the head from them. The Warden is to be informed.

True Crime on Campus §4

True Crime on Campus

Some more shocking reports from the front line of campus life for the 300th post on Registrarism:

2225 Report that persons unknown had thrown water through a bedroom window in Lenton and Wortley Hall wetting some clothes.

0410 Report of Students causing a disturbance outside Rutland Hall. Security attended and spoke to seven Students who were making a lot of noise and very drunk. The Students were asked to keep the noise down as other Students still had exams. The Students tried to bribe Security Officers with spaghetti before returning quietly to their Halls of residence.

2358 A Student requested the room fridge be removed from his room, as it smelt. Security attended and the fridge was removed. The Student stated the reason it smelt was that he had spilled milk in it. The Student is to contact the Hall Staff.

1645 Report of youths urinating and spitting on vehicles. The youths were also said to be swearing at passing Students. Security attended but the youths had left the area. On checking the CCTV, the youths were found to be a group of children the oldest around 7 years old, the youngest around 5 years old. The Police will be informed to see if they can recognise them and give advice to their parents.

1100 Report of a strange man walking around the Music School playing a Guitar. Security attended – no one matching that description was found.

1450 Report of two naked males with an inflatable sex doll outside the Portland Building. Security attended, the area was checked but no one of that description was found.

1450 Security were requested to Highfields Sports Ground where a football team were abusing the referee. Security attended and spoke to a team from Nottingham Trent University – they were told to calm down.