When I was actively researching biology (rather than education), a high point for me was when I was able to contribute to the naming of a new species (Bertolani and Kinchin, 1993). That was quite a buzz, and i still have a strange affection for Ramazzottius varieornatus – even though almost nobody has ever heard of it.
The Tardigrada is a particularly fascinating group of invertebrate animals. Whilst tardigrades are basically aquatic animals, they are able to survive periods of drought by desiccating their bodies. When in this dry, dormant state, their bodies are extremely resistant to environmental extremes that would normally be fatal. The animals can stay in this state of suspended animation – described as anhydrobiosis (life without water) or cryptobiosis (hidden life) – for months or even years (see Mobjerg et al, 2011; Welnicz et al, 2011). Once favourable environmental conditions are restored, the animals are able to rehydrate and continue their lives. Continue reading →
It says something about the Guardian and its reader profile when it builds a crossword round knowing the names of the chancellors of Russell Group universities, as it did on 27 June. I also liked its headline the previous day: ‘New dinosaur found in university store cupboard’. It has now been re-united with older colleagues in the department of economics.
My serious considerations here concern the post-election agenda – what I called Jo-Jo’s in-tray issues in a recent workshop at Coventry (to where/whom, congratulations on their Guardian league table ranking on student views on teaching quality: second only to Cambridge, and, more importantly, above Warwick). That system level policy focus will be balanced by treatment of emergent concerns at institutional level in a later piece.
The most immediate issue is a cut of £450m in the DBIS budget, which may be followed by further longer-term cuts as the failed austerity project continues. Nick Hillman at Coventry suggested an easy step was to convert grants to loans, which reduces the deficit but still increases the debt. I am writing before the budget, but I expect a loosening of fee limits, not ruled out during the election and possibly linked to teaching excellence, with high scorers being allowed to increase fees, as UUK want. Then there will be the sale of further tranches of the loan book, possibly to universities for their own alumni. Research Fortnight expects science to be protected Continue reading →
The intention of Special Issues is to tackle questions –the thornier the better -arising from the global Higher Education agenda (as defined by both policy-makers and researchers). Priority domains include governance and leadership, R&D and innovation management, the academic profession, the changing demographics of international students, financing, innovative approaches to teaching and learning and the concerns of specific groups such as students, women graduates and the challenges faced by certain regions and national contexts due to socio-economic change or the instance of disruptive social conflict.These areas and topics of interest are then shaped into working titles, which provide the specific orientation of each issue.
We are calling this the Global Agenda because Tertiary/Higher Education has long been a key part of the global economy and all countries are facing similar challenges to ensure that they are performing with optimal competitiveness in this fast-moving environment. When a nation fails to keep pace with this situation, this is extremely detrimental to the social and equitable advancement of its citizens.
The process from the negotiation of a priority topic or area to the actual Special Issue title aims to ensure that the focus is both current and forward-looking in order to generate maximum interest and readership.