glitzfrau: (knew it all by sinsense)

I felt quite pleased with this rant I posted in [livejournal.com profile] shreena's journal re: St. Vincent Cable's claim that government-subsidised higher education is 'unaffordable', so I thought I'd post it here;

I have yet to hear the case for the 'affordability' of systematically and publicly deskilling Britain's workforce. For advertising to foreign investors that the pool of skilled labour in Britain will shrink rapidly over the next few years. For pulling investment out of poor cities highly dependent on universities for development. For consigning school leavers to years of restricted incomes and poverty.

But then, I'm not a Tory nor a Lib Dem, so I am clearly foolish in my notion that investment in higher education isn't just one of the smarter moves a developed economy can make, but an essential one. And I'm not British, so I'm sure I can't understand why it's a savvy idea to divest from higher education when everywhere else in the developed and developing world is moving towards the highest possible participation in higher education. We foolish Irish with our 70% rate of participation! See where that got us.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

london met

Sep. 4th, 2012 10:30 am
glitzfrau: (jesusgun)
I was going to post a big long rant about how angry I am that the UK Borders Agency has revoked London Metropolitan University's right to issue visas, leaving thousands of international students threatened with deportation right before the beginning of term. The The Pequod posted pretty much exactly what I think of this decision, so that's OK. One or two extra points:
  • [livejournal.com profile] biascut argues, correctly, that the whole ungodly mess is largely the result of government cuts. UKBA is woefully understaffed, and is running four months behind in issuing visas. Meanwhile, they have outsourced as much as possible of their work to universities.

  • This is the one I am furious about, and have been for three years: I am an unpaid agent of the UKBA. If you work in UK higher education, chances are you are too. Every time I fill in an attendance register for a class online, it is sent to UKBA, and if international students miss too many classes, they're liable to deportation - because of my actions. I don't know who's an EU student in my classes, and I don't want to know. I don't want to discriminate. But an EU student has the right to attend a family funeral at short notice, take time off for the Olympics, spend a morning in bed with a hangover, with no greater sanction than a bollocking from me or, at worst, suspension from studies; non-EU students get deported for that. I think that's gross. In fact, I think when I go back I have half a mind to check which students are non-EU and mark them present at every class, just because.

  • What is the result of an international headline stating 'International students at UK university to be deported through no fault of their own?' A drop in international recruitment, of course. Commentators are arguing that this is an appalling knock-on effect, that the reputational damage is irreparable, what were the government thinking? I say, if you want to know why a decision was made, look at its outcomes. Outcome: the Daily Mail is happy, racism is stoked among the population (all the discourse in the headlines is about 'genuine' versus 'fraudulent' students - just as it was last year about 'fraudulent' benefits claimants), and Johnny Foreigner is told he's jolly well not welcome in Britain. I would say that's exactly what the government wanted to achieve. Where is David Willetts, defending these students and the institution? Nowhere. That speaks for itself.

  • And ANOTHER thing: I suspect one ancillary reason why the government doesn't give a toss or is rejoicing in London Met's downfall is that they are mostly Oxbridge poshos. They can't imagine that any 'genuine' international student could possibly want to pay £30,000 to attend a dismal ex-poly like London Met. Everyone knows that genuine international students are luminaries like Aung San Su Kyi and Benazir Bhutto studying PPE at Oxbridge and glittering in the Students' Union there.

    What Brazilian would pay through the nose to do a scummy course like - ugh! - media or business studies at London Met? Only a fraudster, clearly. About time this racket was closed down, and elitist excellence restored. If the knock-on effect damages more of those so-called 'new universities', so much the better, right? They were supposed to wither away and die under the new fees regime anyway.


END OF RANT. I am cross. But oh well, the booing of George Osborne and cheering of Gordon Brown at the Paralympics last night are glorious things.
glitzfrau: (jesusgun)
How to win friends and influence people:

On 19 Jun 2012, at 09:56, A Man wrote:

My good lady works at the City Centre and has just been sent this by their security so thought I should pass it on:
“It has been brought to my attention that there were two attempted rape incidents this weekend along the canal in the city centre. In both cases the victims were female joggers. One of these attacks was at 4.00 pm on Sunday afternoon in broad daylight. The culprit/s have not been caught.

It would therefore be advisable until further notice to not go running in those areas and not to run alone at all.

Please let as many runners as you know as possible (please forward on!!!) including guys, as they can pass the message on to more people too.”

Dear A Man,

Thank you for your mail. It might be more advisable for you to pass on the following advice to men at the university:

* Do not rape female joggers
* If you see a female jogger, do not act threateningly towards her
* If a female jogger appears alarmed at your presence, leave the canal area
* If one of your friends says he has raped a female jogger, report him to the police

I fail to see why we women are being called upon to change our behaviour when it is men who are committing this crime.

Best wishes,

Angry Glitz
glitzfrau: (jesusgun)
Please stop posting that wanky macro about how Assange is a HERO and yet treated like a VILLAIN, whereas Zuckerberg is the real CROOK HERE.oh, this macro is so CLEVER and LIBERTARIAN )

Then, when I point out that there are outstanding rape allegations against Assange, and that he has wantonly endangered the lives of human rights defenders by leaking their details, do not respond by saying 'we are all entitled to a fair trial'. We are all indeed entitled to due process, indeed, but skulking abroad evading trial, complaining that we are 'emasculated' by having to wear an ankle tag and playing the martyr does not add to our heroism. Instead, it makes us look like a rapey wanker.

Also, no-one is forcing us to sign up to Facebook. By doing so, we enter into a contract with Zuckerberg willingly - unlike the women who may not have been allowed to consent to sex with Assange, or the defenders who did not consent to the endangerment of their lives.

Seriously, so-called 'friends'. THREE TIMES? Could somebody kill this rapey macro now, please?
glitzfrau: (knew it all by sinsense)
I HAVE A NEW THEORY ABOUT THE RIOTS. And I will mention it briefly, then move on, because the analysis and reconstruction are much much better left to wiser, more patient, more experienced people than an armchair middle-classnik like me. (Read [livejournal.com profile] ultraruby, for instance.) But anyway, I am wondering to what extent the Great British Narrative of Decline informs the situation, at every level. Tories spouting that family breakdown and liberal policing have caused the misery, unlike an imagined golden age in the past where paterfamilias kept order and your friendly local white bobby just had to frown at one of the dastardly gypsies from Enid Blyton and crime was averted. Lefties blaming the cuts in EMA and youth services, as though there were never any riots, any theft or any deprivation in the glorious Blair years or in the 1950s, as though people weren't still dying young of TB and as though all those vaunted manufacturing industry jobs didn't also routinely cause hideous industrial accidents and life-long disability. Liberals talking about poverty of aspiration in an increasingly unequal society, as though the "more equal" Britain of the 1960s wasn't built on a toxic practice of empire and on trade protectionism; just look at Britain's filthy little satrapy in Northern Ireland in those years for a flipside to the narrative of the "age of opportunity", never mind the ways in which Jamaican immigrants or Kenyan freedom fighters were treated.

Britain was better, then. People worked harder, aspired more, had decent jobs to go to, respected community more, were wealthier, healthier, less in thrall to television. Not like today's broken Britain. All the coalition government and the UK media have to offer the British public is a non-stop narrative of misery, austerity, corruption, sinking living standards, cuts in services, poverty in old age, massive middle-class debt, the pauperisation of social tenants, decline and fall.

Maybe I'm wrong, but thinking back to the 1980s Ireland of my childhood, where there was an enormous amount of poverty but not so much social unrest (we exported it to the North), I think that narratives of decline and fall had no place. There was no golden age for us to hark back to; there was the grinding poverty of the 1950s, the unsustainable and preposterous separatism of the 1930s, and the humiliation of colonisation. Whether or not things had been better under the British in the 1910s than under de Valera in the 1940s (as I sometimes suspect they must have been), no Irish citizen in the 1980s and no Irish citizen now yearns to return to British imperial rule. Even now, I don't hear many Irish people saying "if only we could return to the glorious Tiger days of 1999". We know we've messed up, but the only way is forward, hoping and planning for a new better Ireland. And I suspect - though what would I know? - that this is why the Irish culture of education is so much stronger than the British one, where 50% going to university is only an abandoned aspiration (in Ireland, it's the norm, and numbers are going up year on year). Maybe I'm just a big Hegelian banging on about narratives of progress here, but the British narrative of decline just seems to be leading to despair and rancour. I am very tired of it.
glitzfrau: (ueberspod)
I am not the best authority to comment on the Browne report or the spending review in higher education, but here are my thoughts, anyway:
  • The proposal to strip funding from all but 'core' subjects in the Browne report will necessarily hit languages very hard, and arts subjects in general hard, as we are and will continue to be heavily dependent on teaching funding from the government. It is generally acknowledged that the proposed rise in the fees to a 'soft cap' of £6000 will not cover teaching costs once the government cuts our teaching funding. Departments, faculties and schools will close.

  • There is a myth surrounding arts degrees: the graffiti over the toilet roll holder, saying Arts degrees, please take one. Employers, in the private sector as well as the public sector, love arts graduates, for their critical thinking skills, self-motivation, writing skills, research skills and the rest of the package. Arts graduates are to be found in the most influential positions around the world - Obama, for instance, and if we were to go through the UK cabinet present and past, the number of arts graduates would be very high. Arts skills are essential to the economy, but so far employers aren't prepared to fund them, in the way that they are happy to cross-fund science graduates via industry collaborations with universities. So when departments, faculties and universities shut, unless industry and public sector bodies start funding the arts students they desperately need, the economy will lose a proven, essential high-skills resource. Very foolish.

  • Apparently, free fees in Scotland haven't widened participation; free fees have widened participation mildly in Ireland; moderate fees in England have widened participation significantly. So there is a case to be made for fees. However, the premium promised to graduates at present is only £100,000 increase in earnings over a lifetime, an unlikely figure in any case, and this will shrink as more people have degrees. Further, once students graduate with £50,000 in debt, the attractiveness of that premium will shrink. So I cannot see how this massive hike in fees will not dissuade people on low incomes, and condemn them to a life at the bottom of an economy that, increasingly, relies on graduates, not unskilled or low-skilled workers.

  • Further, has anyone gender-proofed this proposed fees hike? Men may earn enough to pay off their debt and realise a profit; women, who earn less in general and in particular once they have children, may well not.

  • Finally, as Jonathan Freedland said, the entire argument for raising fees is an individualistic one that sees a degree as a commodity, and a university as a service provider for a rational, discriminating sixteen year old consumer. (I have yet to meet this sixteen year old, but if you know the one who does patient, disinterested research into their degree without being influenced at all by their family, class and social group, please let me know.)

    But a degree is a social and personal good. We provide free primary and secondary education because society as a whole could not function without them; increasingly, the same is true of tertiary education, and every other European country subsidises higher education for this reason. Eastern Europe has poured money into higher education in the past ten years, Germany is stepping up its investment; they will reap the rewards, and English young people will be left crushed by a choice between unemployability or massive debt that Czech and French young people will never need to be worried by. This does not strike me as the way to ensure national prosperity.

    Further, higher education provides a cultural resource for a society, of a graduate cohort who have engaged with and created cultural and scientific knowledge, who bring that knowledge into their careers and families and use the skills they have learned at university to better society and the economy. That seems irrelevant to the government, too.

    I am beginning to think that the only way to sell an arts degree to a student in future will not be in terms of value for money - because no non-professional degree will be able to guarantee value for money at £50,000 a pop - nor in terms of employability, but more in the good old-fashioned terms of higher education: the three years at university are valuable in themselves as a wonderful time spent developing the mind. I genuinely believe that this is true. Unfortunately, in the future it looks as though only the very, very privileged English will be able to afford it.


Me, I'm happy to emigrate, as are many other scientists and academics. And I suspect many students will begin to do the same. Why would an English student pay £50,000 for a British degree when they could do a degree at Ghent or Uppsala, in English, for a fraction of the price?

Es wird nichts so heiss gegessen wie es gekocht wird; we will see what will really happen. But these new suggestions are ridiculous.
glitzfrau: (ueberspod)
I am not the best authority to comment on the Browne report or the spending review in higher education, but here are my thoughts, anyway:
  • The proposal to strip funding from all but 'core' subjects in the Browne report will necessarily hit languages very hard, and arts subjects in general hard, as we are and will continue to be heavily dependent on teaching funding from the government. It is generally acknowledged that the proposed rise in the fees to a 'soft cap' of £6000 will not cover teaching costs once the government cuts our teaching funding. Departments, faculties and schools will close.

  • There is a myth surrounding arts degrees: the graffiti over the toilet roll holder, saying Arts degrees, please take one. Employers, in the private sector as well as the public sector, love arts graduates, for their critical thinking skills, self-motivation, writing skills, research skills and the rest of the package. Arts graduates are to be found in the most influential positions around the world - Obama, for instance, and if we were to go through the UK cabinet present and past, the number of arts graduates would be very high. Arts skills are essential to the economy, but so far employers aren't prepared to fund them, in the way that they are happy to cross-fund science graduates via industry collaborations with universities. So when departments, faculties and universities shut, unless industry and public sector bodies start funding the arts students they desperately need, the economy will lose a proven, essential high-skills resource. Very foolish.

  • Apparently, free fees in Scotland haven't widened participation; free fees have widened participation mildly in Ireland; moderate fees in England have widened participation significantly. So there is a case to be made for fees. However, the premium promised to graduates at present is only £100,000 increase in earnings over a lifetime, an unlikely figure in any case, and this will shrink as more people have degrees. Further, once students graduate with £50,000 in debt, the attractiveness of that premium will shrink. So I cannot see how this massive hike in fees will not dissuade people on low incomes, and condemn them to a life at the bottom of an economy that, increasingly, relies on graduates, not unskilled or low-skilled workers.

  • Further, has anyone gender-proofed this proposed fees hike? Men may earn enough to pay off their debt and realise a profit; women, who earn less in general and in particular once they have children, may well not.

  • Finally, as Jonathan Freedland said, the entire argument for raising fees is an individualistic one that sees a degree as a commodity, and a university as a service provider for a rational, discriminating sixteen year old consumer. (I have yet to meet this sixteen year old, but if you know the one who does patient, disinterested research into their degree without being influenced at all by their family, class and social group, please let me know.)

    But a degree is a social and personal good. We provide free primary and secondary education because society as a whole could not function without them; increasingly, the same is true of tertiary education, and every other European country subsidises higher education for this reason. Eastern Europe has poured money into higher education in the past ten years, Germany is stepping up its investment; they will reap the rewards, and English young people will be left crushed by a choice between unemployability or massive debt that Czech and French young people will never need to be worried by. This does not strike me as the way to ensure national prosperity.

    Further, higher education provides a cultural resource for a society, of a graduate cohort who have engaged with and created cultural and scientific knowledge, who bring that knowledge into their careers and families and use the skills they have learned at university to better society and the economy. That seems irrelevant to the government, too.

    I am beginning to think that the only way to sell an arts degree to a student in future will not be in terms of value for money - because no non-professional degree will be able to guarantee value for money at £50,000 a pop - nor in terms of employability, but more in the good old-fashioned terms of higher education: the three years at university are valuable in themselves as a wonderful time spent developing the mind. I genuinely believe that this is true. Unfortunately, in the future it looks as though only the very, very privileged English will be able to afford it.


Me, I'm happy to emigrate, as are many other scientists and academics. And I suspect many students will begin to do the same. Why would an English student pay £50,000 for a British degree when they could do a degree at Ghent or Uppsala, in English, for a fraction of the price?

Es wird nichts so heiss gegessen wie es gekocht wird; we will see what will really happen. But these new suggestions are ridiculous.
glitzfrau: (sophie)
Dear Grauniad,

I am disgusted to see that what passes for 'comedy' these days has sunk so far that Armstrong and Miller traduce the memory of Flanders and Swann by dressing up as the classic duo in order to give their cheap, unfunny misogynist songs the patina of humour. Funny, isn't it, how Flanders and Swann never saw the need to make insulting fat jokes about women, and yet their parlour songs kept people convulsed with laughter in the golden days of BBC entertainment?

Yours,

Disgusted of Manchester

___

And the worst of it is, this is a true reflection of my feelings.
glitzfrau: (sophie)
Dear Grauniad,

I am disgusted to see that what passes for 'comedy' these days has sunk so far that Armstrong and Miller traduce the memory of Flanders and Swann by dressing up as the classic duo in order to give their cheap, unfunny misogynist songs the patina of humour. Funny, isn't it, how Flanders and Swann never saw the need to make insulting fat jokes about women, and yet their parlour songs kept people convulsed with laughter in the golden days of BBC entertainment?

Yours,

Disgusted of Manchester

___

And the worst of it is, this is a true reflection of my feelings.