Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Taking the pee in lectures?

The typical University student is:
  • Expected to sit for a WHOLE HOUR (50 mins) and pay attention to a lecture;
  • Not only to pay attention but to engage too! At the very least this means taking notes, even answering questions and, where a braver than normal lecturer is at the front, to discuss stuff in an interested way.
  • Hold their water and their hunger pangs until lunchtime or the end of the day, espacially if their timetable is crowded.
So, I issue my advice to lecturers:
  • Allow frequent breaks to account for varying degrees of bladder control (including your own);
  • Offer opportunities to get up, walk around, stretch legs etc., perhaps as part of an innovative post-lunch / post breakfast / post Brexit energising exercise;
  • Show leadership by eating a Cornish Pasty* (* amend for regional variations, Haggis, Leek Soup, Chip Butty, W├╝rstburger etc.) during the lecture;
  • Play podcasts and videos in addition to your own brief lectures to vary the delivery;
  • Do absolutely nothing to humiliate or highlight any individual or group that does not engage in discussion, fails to answer simple questions (the answers to which are on the slide displayed!) or arrives late / leaves early.
So, 5 WHOLE minutes in each hour is enough for a lecturer of your calibre isn't it?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

PEST analysis of Learning in HE #2 Economic

The 2017 General Election campaign has brought Higher Education in the UK into stark focus, especially regarding the economic influences on the sector.

for the many, paid for by the few?

Now that the unpleasantness is over Vice Chancellors can get back to the daily grind of real economics.  Vastly underrated and, some say, under-rewarded for their sterling efforts, VCs juggle a huge array of complex and often cyclical Economic issues:
  • Just how far will the £ fall through Brexit uncertainty, making UK University fees relatively cheaper to International students?
  • Just how many of those international bargain hunters be allowed a visa to study?
  • Just how long will it take for Labour's wish to abolish student loans to become Tory policy?
...sorry, this is supposed to be about economics...

  • Just how high will staff wages rise?  That's an easy one - somewhere south of inflation, as they have for the past 5 years, at least.
  • Just how competitive will the market get? Another easy one - Universities aren't in the business of competition but collaboration, similar in many ways to the Premier League and F.A. - we'll compete "on the field" but our business model relies on apparently collusive behaviour.
So, that's alright then.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

PEST analysis of Learning in HE #1 Political

First in a short series of posts that look at the environment within which Seats of Learning operate. This post focuses on, possibly, the most contentious factor - Political.
I really cannot believe that our political leaders think that they have all the answers - to believe so borders on meglomania!

Political guidance is sensible.  Political meddling is potentially very harmful.

Just what do the politicians want Universities to do?
  1. Keep half of the 18-21 year olds out of the unemployment register?
  2. Create wealth through both research and production of graduates?
  3. Earn foreign exchange through successful exporting?
  4. Develop the nation's intellectual capital?
Well then, let us get on with it - rather than trying to make us into a branch of Tesco, peddling vanilla degrees to student "consumers".

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

I'm engaged - but when's the wedding?

Call me old fashioned but, in my day, ENGAGEMENT meant commitment, part of a promise, an agreement entered into willingly and after much thought and research.  It meant saving up money to make sure that the venture was on a sound financial footing and even taking on affordable debt to make independence a reality.
ENGAGEMENT looked forward to a shared future, a joint journey of discovery and a sparkling occasion at which the "engaged" set forth in the world by themselves.  ENGAGED people enjoyed respect from their peers and from society and did their utmost, whatever perils they may encounter on the way, to reach their life goals together.
Picture by Boykung at
Now consider today.  How many young people:

  • are actually willing to become ENGAGED?
  • have the luxury of avoiding debt?
  • actually research their partner, their likes and dislikes, their goals and their history?
  • are willing to share their journey, rather than reserve the best seat for themselves?
  • are willing to jump ship at the first sign of problems?
  • work in the comfort of knowing that it can all be appealed and legally ended by an increasingly secular society.
It's not, of course, the young people's fault entirely and...

It's not the same with degrees.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

100 up and going strong!

The number 100 has a huge significance in our lives:

  • On our 100th birthday H.M.Queen send us a congratulatory telegram - actually our family organises it as Buckingham Palace has absolutely no idea who we are!
  • Our life's achievements are benchmarked as %s - just what % of people actually know what a % is?
  • Athletic Sports are often measured in 100s of metres - so I am told.
  • The legal limit of alcohol in breath when driving in the UK is 35 in 100 millilitres - and how did you know that Keith?


  • and.........this blog celebrates its 100th post.

    Trebles all round! (or should that be 100s?)