Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Blogging 101: I wish I hadn't said that!

But you did, Oscar, did.

Writers (1895) by Python, M (YOUTUBE LINK)

Bloggers should take note that once released, blogs can never be completely eradicated - so if you are going to say something controversial or "witty" in a way that you understand but others may feel offensive - think before clicking "publish".

For me, George Bernard Shaw (as played by Michael Palin)'s excellent rejoinder is a stock response to all detractors.  Edwardian wit at its best...

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

HE Leadership explained: The VC

Apparently you get a VC for gallantry in the face of the enemy.  So, why do so many Higher Education detractors vilify the VC?

Picture by: EyeSerene Original: Richard Harvey
The VC means gallantry:

  • Keeping a straight face when someone asks if the TEF really indicates Teachng Quality.
  • Finding something positive to say both in public and to Professors when your institution only got BRONZE.
  • Setting a rapid change agenda in an environment where change is measured in decades.
  • Showing that you are worth it when the size of your "Total Remuneration Package" is revealed in the press.
  • Delaying that Freedom of Information request about international trips. the face of the enemy:
  • Students ?
  • Staff ?
  • Council ?
  • Accreditation bodies ?
  • HEFCE ?
  • Jo Johnson ?
  • Other Universities ?
Personally I think that VCs get everything they deserve.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Cutting your toenails with a scythe

This week's post is really cutting edge stuff - groan!

How many times do we sit in a presentation, talk or lecture and zone out or reach for the mobile phone to look at our Twitter feed because the speaker has totally missed the target and has not understood the needs of the audience?

Lecturing (and I have waxed lyrical in the past about labelling all Learning events as "Lectures") are designed to do one thing - to deliver something (opinion, facts, argument, information) to an audience.  Lectures are one type of Learning event but are enshrined in expectations, in geographies of HE institutions, in staff titles and so on...

Would you cut your toenails with a scythe?  Would you brush your hair with a broom?

So why would you deliver a lecture when you actually want to achieve a learning goal for which that blunt instrument was never designed?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

HE Explained: Independent Learning

One of the goals of Higher Education, so it seems, is to develop skills of "Independent Learning" in students.  Critical thinking, it is said, emerges from an ability to organise ideas, discover, sort, analyse and evaluate evidence and to communicate conclusions in a persuasive and relevant way.

Many Universities do this by filling student contact time with subject specific material, we'll call it STUFF, and then sending students away to the library, pub, McDonalds, Accommodation block, re-painted "social area" or even "Learning Pod" to undertake Independent Learning.

The academic staff then, in time honoured fashion, guage the level to which students can learn independently by setting an exam or assignment which must be submitted or completed at a decent period after the end of the lecture schedule (STUFF SHOVELLING PERIOD).

Immediately I wonder:

  • Are exams the best way to test STUFF RETENTION or Independent Learning?
  • Is independent work, on an assignment, submitted electronically to match text with all known works in civilisation in order to catch CHEATS, really the same as Independent Learning?
  • Is 80% of nominal hours of student effort on a module enough to foster Independent Learning?
  • Can Independent Learning ever be compatible with Group or Collaborative Learning?
  • Is the Independent Learner really what industry wants to employ?
Just asking....

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

HE Finance Explained: Just where did my money go?

In all institutions, whether they are charities, Government Departments or Universities there are simple accounting concepts that pervade.  In this post I hope to provide some easily understood explanations for oh so complex accounting issues that help explain finances in Higher Education:

Remember: Balance sheets always balance; Universities are not corporates and so should not be compared with them in financial terms; Profit is a dirty word and efficiency is "an interesting concept Professor Carruthers, but not one that is too relevant to today's Higher Education economics."

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

HE explained: The Student Moan Scheme

We love to whinge and, although His Holiness the Pope has warned against it, we do like to blame someone else for our own shortcomings.


Even as consumers we want to pay less but then blame the shop when the cheap lawnmower / TV / shoes / get the drift?...fails to last long past the end of its warranty period.

So it is no surprise that student consumers (we'll just call them students) ignore His Holiness and develop advanced skills in moaning, complaining, appealing and overall critical thinking.

And its very supportive of the government to enact the Higher Education Act to give statutory rights to students to complain and for Universities to grovel at their feet.

It gives such a warm glow when all is so right with the world.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

HE Finance explained: Graduate Futures - Theory and Practice


Futures are financial contracts obligating the buyer to purchase an asset , or the seller to sell an asset, such as a debt obligation, at a predetermined future date and price. Futures contracts detail the quality and quantity of the underlying asset; they are standardized to facilitate trading on a futures exchange. Futures contracts are settled in cash.
Graduate Futures are financial nightmares, enticing the bank / hedge fund / asset manager to buy the debt obligation (asset), at an arbitrary future date, determined by the then current giovernment and with a price heavily influenced by legislation, tax regulation, economic growth and whim.  OR obligating the seller / graduate to reflect on the inequity of being born at the wrong time, questioning the actual value of the debt compiled, bemoaning the burden of perpetual insolvency, relieved only by the warm glow that burning your degree certificate brings when the electricity is cut off.  Graduate Futures contracts are never settled.