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Punk Academic’s Crowd-Sourced Quick Guide to Masks

++UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FROM CATRIONA GOLD (@cat__gold), DAVID CHIVALL (@dchivall ) and JAMES SUMNER (@JamesBSumner) ++ It goes without saying that a) I don’t think we should be onsite, b) I think that mask wearing should be the norm, and c) I wish so very much we were on an alternate timeline. But we’re…More

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Sneering at Marx

The context of Rachel Reeves’ failure to read the author of Capital hints at the intellectual bankruptcy of the contemporary Labour right In 1956, Anthony Crosland, revisionist theorist and future Labour cabinet minister, penned some reflections on Marx. In his Future of Socialism, seen even today as a holy text amongst sections of the Labour…More

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We and They: UCU and the threat of redundancies at the University of Exeter

A spectre stalks the University of Exeter, and sadly it isn’t that of communism. It’s that of redundancies. Tomorrow the local UCU branch meets over Zoom at 1.30pm in an Extraordinary General Meeting (ExGM) requested by its members to discuss the threat of ‘mass redundancies’. Consultation on redundancies in professional services units has already commenced;…More

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Say no to onsite teaching: Being the university in a time of crisis

The news tonight that the government is to ban social gatherings of more than six people should be a turning point in the discussion over universities teaching face-to-face (F2F) on campus. Large gatherings, the government says, are the greatest risk of spread. By magic, apparently, such risks don’t apply to workplaces, places of education or…More

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Universities and the coronavirus: Questions of leadership

Mike Finn (@punk_academic) As the novel coronavirus pandemic has swept the world, it has inevitably become a political question. This is no less true of universities in Britain than in any other area. There are real, and immediate, challenges for institutions that often have tens of thousands of students from a wide range of locations…More

Archive: In defence of postmodernism

(Originally published at The Socialist Imaginary) ‘In the past, when you needed information, you went to an encyclopaedia… and you could trust that the information would be true.’ Or so says Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s famed education guru, best-known as the co-ordinator of the PISA testing process which provides a comparative metric analysis of national education…More

Expendable assets: Staff and students in the pandemic university (long read)

On Friday a letter appeared in The Times – signed by ‘100 leading academics’ no less – advocating ‘a return to face-to-face teaching as soon as possible’, making clear its signatories’ rejection of UCU’s position that wherever possible, teaching in the forthcoming university term should take place online. The Times probably wouldn’t always recognise all…More

IWMD 2020: Remember the dead, fight for the living

Thomas Finn, 1886-1926 CW: Suicide, mental health issues (with thanks to Shelagh Scott who did all the primary research on Thomas Finn) International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) has had a higher media profile this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the inescapable reality of the deaths of nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, transport workers, retail…More

Rankings don’t kill people, grade inflaters do

Trigger warning: Mental health, suicide Another day, another announcement of another state-driven initiative to discipline academics and solve a state-created problem. This week, it’s grade inflation – something the Universities Minister, Sam Gyimah, has talked about off-and-on for a long time, and now, we are told, there’s going to be a ‘crackdown’. The question of…More

Why UCU should fight on

On Friday night, like most people I know, I allowed myself a smile. Status quo. Independent panel. Comparable scheme. For me, this was a win. We’d done it. Forced them to take DC off the table, as UCU’s national leadership encouraged us to believe we had done, won a commitment to an independent panel ahead…More