SHAKING UP HIGHER ED – TEF’S SILVER LINING

By Alex Powell

Late last month, we saw the release of the first batch of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results. The TEF has been the subject of significant student opposition, with a Save the Student survey suggesting that as many as 76% of students oppose the implementation of the TEF. I was an opponent of it myself, particularly of links made between TEF scores and the ability of institutions to raise their tuition fees, though this plan has been postponed until 2020.

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REVIVING CAMPUS ACTIVISM – A ROADMAP

by Bradley Allsop

We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.

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WHO DESERVES TEF GOLD? AND DOES IT MATTER?

by Laura Potts

Last week, the first set of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings were released for 2017. The TEF is fairly complicated and students are rarely informed of how it works, or the possible implications it holds for the future of education. In short, it is a framework of metrics or measures introduced by the Tory government, ostensibly to assess teaching in higher education institutions in England. These metrics categorise two areas: student satisfaction and graduate earnings / employability. A lot of the data comes from the National Student Survey that final year students are often pressured to take part in. This years’ rankings gave some unexpected results for some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes, with many not doing as well as expected – only 8 of the 21 elite Russell Group universities were awarded ‘Gold’. This suggests that we should be cautious about taking the TEF results as accurate representations of institutions.

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DEBT RISING – HOW TUITION FEES ARE KILLING UNIVERSITIES

by Lewis Martin

Last week it was announced that the total student debt in the UK has reached over £100 billion for the first time. Whilst this milestone was inevitable, it is nonetheless an indictment of the current government’s claim that it is easy and convenient for students to pay off their debt under the post-2010 system.

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THE UK POSTGRADUATE STUDY CRISIS MUST END

by Bradley Allsop

Postgraduate study and research is a vital part of the higher education sector and yet in the UK it is in crisis, riddled with multiple, endemic problems.

Firstly, there are systemic problems with postgraduate study in terms of who even gets through the door. Research has shown that, graduates who are women, from certain ethnic minority groups or from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to go on to study at postgraduate level. This is a social injustice in itself, and raises serious questions about the cultures and systems that exist within both academia and society more generally, but it is also to the detriment of academia: academia thrives on diversity.Continue Reading

RUNNING AWAY

by Alice Thomson

I moved to Norwich five years ago. Well, actually, I didn’t move to Norwich at all. When I relay the story of how I came to live in Norwich I always jokingly say I came to visit and never left. For me Norwich was great – love at first sight. The reason why I came to stay in Norwich was a lot less great and a lot more painful. I came down for a week to visit my mother and celebrate our birthdays (they’re six days apart). I was living in Aberdeen at the time, so at the end of the week my mum drove me up to the Scottish border as planned. She was going to see friends, and I was going to carry on my journey from there. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. The prospect of continuing my journey filled me with crippling fear. It became obvious to my mum that I couldn’t go home. And so we turned around, and came back to Norwich. I ran away.

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ENOUGH PESSIMISM ABOUT HE – A RESPONSE TO JIM DICKINSON

by Lewis Martin

In a recent article for the Guardian, UEA SU CEO Jim Dickinson wrote about universities’ failure to produce anything satisfactory for its students, as well as the lack of transparency around how tuition fees are spent. Helpful though it is to point out the issues faced by the student movement, Dickinson fails to offer any type of remedy for them at any point, suggesting that cynical resignation is the only possible response.

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