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 […]

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 […]

The end of the line for Alistair Jarvis

This morning, staff and students fighting for pensions and against marketisation woke to the surprising news that Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, had emailed staff to confirm the University was reversing its position on pensions. This was all the more spectacular given that only yesterday Oxford’s famed academic self-governance was derailed by 21 ‘loyalists’ who vetoed […]

Strike week two: The university rises

Week Two of the strike, freezing temperatures, and the university reborn. It has been a remarkable three days. Across the country, picket lines have been manned with gusto, with dogs, babies and even a Strikeosaurus putting in an appearance. Students have turned out in force too, playing their part in the line and in supporting […]

Why we strike

As I write, the strike over USS in British universities looms ever larger. With action due to begin on 22nd February, and UUK thus far showing no signs of backing down, strike planning has commenced in earnest in union branches across the country. The NUS took a while to release a statement of support, and […]

UK higher education and the perils of ‘it’ll never happen’

The appointment of Toby Young to the board of the Office for Students, the new regulator for English higher education, has unsurprisingly sparked fury amongst academics. Young, a longstanding supporter of Conservative education policy and ‘disruption’ was the poster-boy of the free schools initiative introduced by the coalition government under Michael Gove as Education Secretary. His West London Free School became the symbol of Gove’s desire to ‘free’ education from the remit of ‘the blob’, instead returning to a ‘traditional’ curriculum free from any of that ‘progressive’ nonsense.