Saturday, November 19, 2005

of note this week...

(1) The Times Higher has a fascinating article on a new "survey" which is really a whole new approach to the business of gathering opinion data. Rather than surveying academic staff themselves to ask about their level of satisfaction with pay and conditions, some 60+ Personnel Managers were asked what they thought staff in their sector felt about these issues and then published a report claiming that the overwhelming results were that staff were well paid, had excellent conditions and job satisfaction!

(2) The Education Guardian has an interesting article about the "next phase" of e-learning using blogs, wikis, podcasts and the like. Very accessible and brief summary for those new to these areas.,10577,1642281,00.html

(3) To combat excessive drinking amongst students, the NUS in the UK has teamed up with the Health Department, universities and drinks companies for a Christmas campaign aimed at raising awareness of the issues.

(4) Meanwhile, also in the UK, there is controversy over a supposedly suppressed report which was commissioned by Universities UK and revealed that students were suffering under the fees/loans regime in England. The results were due out earlier in the year but controversial conclusions were edited out to avoid political repercussions, particularly during the election period.

(5) Prospect Magazine has published the results of its recent "poll" on the world's top public intellectuals which was convincingly won by Noam Chomsky, followed by Umberto Eco and Richard Dawkins ( or the listings at Of course this is essentially meaningless and says more about the number of online fans each has, but at least it has drawn attention to the very concept of a "public intellectual" and perhaps provide food for thought as regards the potential role that universities could play as part of the "public sphere" of debate and discussion (Habermas, incidentally, was number 7).

(6) A fall from grace, however, for a well known contributor to popular psychology in TV and the press in the UK as Raj Persuad (barely a week passes without him on TV in Britain) has been found to have plagiarised work in at least one publication. Interestingly his "defence" sounds as hollow coming from him as such an argument might coming from a recalcitrant student.,,1636003,00.html

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