Wednesday, December 14, 2005

of note this week...

(1) The Times Higher highlights a new report (1) arguing the case for permanent contracts to be abolished in favour of rolling contracts for academic staff. This has, of course, caused quite a stir since it runs in contradiction to previous work which shows that the lack of job security eats away at the confidence of researchers and that morale and teaching standards in institutions that are over-dependent on contract staff are very low.

(2) Of course, the bigger news from the UK has been the merger of the two main unions, AUT (Association of University Teachers) and NATFHE to produce a super-union with over 116,000 members (2). Some of us have fond memories of the old AUT of the '80s and its bold slogan in the campaign against the widening disparity between academics' salaries and those of the other professions: "Rectify the Anomaly." Really stirring stuff that brought them onto the streets!

(3) Meanwhile, at Oxford and Cambridge plans are afoot for the development of a direct air link between the two towns (3). Protests are beginning to be made about the environmental implications and campaigners are saying that this presses the case for better rail transport. Still, handy way to pop over to a seminar, think the promoters of the scheme.

(4) The Chronicle of Higher Education (4) discusses the concept of "helicopter parents" who hover around universities looking after their children and interfering/interacting with university policies and procedures. In one case a state representative so resented a parking ticket he got whilst on campus helping his daughter move that he introduced a bill to change the law and suspend parking tickets on campus.



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