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The Society for Research into Higher Education

Ian Mc Nay


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SRHE News Quiz 2020

Ian McNay, bereft at the news that the SRHE Cryptic Crossword was no more, decided to invent an alternative challenge for the festive season. Here, with suitably global reach, is the result – the SRHE News Quiz 2020. Each answer is the name of a university. We could have called it University Challenge, but that might have been misleading – University Challenge is a TV programme. However we do recognise that the name may still be misleading. This is a quiz in SRHE News (and Blog), but it is not a news quiz. The News Quiz is a radio programme. This isn’t a radio programme (or a TV programme), and it’s not about news. But it is a quiz. We hope that’s cleared things up.

The answers will appear in the January issue of SRHE News, so you have just a couple of weeks to find all 20. If you email rob.cuthbert@uwe.ac.uk with the answers before 7 January we’ll mention your name in the January issue.  

  1. Was it locked down or up for Covid?
  2. The Queen’s prison?
  3. NOT an historically black university
  4. The original European saucy source
  5. Generally sunk by Thatcher
  6. A Great Easterner in West London
  7. Where Polly sat among the Ashes
  8. Martin? Or Midlands triangle?
  9. Gillian’s Celtic clan in the new world
  10. Could be a mere rake
  11. Helen’s lover with many numbers
  12. 1952 Olympics
  13. Another aristocrat, but not ‘of Edinburgh’
  14. Shakespeare’s kingmaker
  15. Don Quixote’s home region
  16. Now Ghana but it seems to have moved
  17. In England and Canada, battling in vain
  18. Italian wisdom
  19. Do its graduands wear cowboy hats?
  20. An objective Latin female?

For answers, view page 2:

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Was that a foul REF?

By Rob Cuthbert

The Research Excellence Framework, the UK’s latest version of research quality assessment, reached its conclusion just after the SRHE Research Conference. Publication of the results in mid-December led to exhaustive coverage in all the HE media. 

In the Research Season 2008-2014 the controversy was not so much about who ended up top of the league, but whether the English premier league can still claim to be the best in the world.

Big clubs were even more dominant, with the golden triangle pulling away from the rest and filling the top league positions. But controversy raged about the standard of refereeing, with many more players being labelled world class than ever before. Referees supremo David Sweeney was quick to claim outstanding success, but sponsors and commentators were more sceptical, as the number of goals per game went up by more than 50%.

During the season transfer fees had reached record heights as galactico research stars were poached by the big clubs before the end of the transfer window. To secure their World University League places the leading clubs were leaving nothing to chance. It was a league of two halves. After positions based on research outcomes had been calculated there was a series of adjustments, based on how many people watched the game (impact), and how big your stadium was (environment). This was enough to ensure no surprises in the final league table, with big clubs exploiting their ground advantage to the full. And of course after the end of the season there is usually a further adjustment to ensure that the big clubs get an even bigger share of the funding available. This process, decreed by the game’s governing body, is known as ‘financial fair play’.

Some players had an outstanding season – astronomers were reported to be ‘over the moon’ at the final results, but not everyone was happy: one zoologist confided that he was ‘sick as a parrot’. The small clubs lacked nothing in effort, especially at Northampton, where they responded superbly to their manager’s call to put in 107%. But not everyone can be a winner, research is a results business and as always when a team underperforms, some clubs will be quick to sack the manager, and many more will sack the players.

Scepticism about the quality of the league lingers among the game’s governing body, suspicious about high scoring, and there is a risk that the money from the Treasury will finally dry up. The game may not have finished yet, but some … some people are running onto the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is for now.

Rob Cuthbert is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Management, University of the West of England, Joint Managing Partner, Practical Academics rob.cuthbert@btinternet.com, Editor, Higher Education Review www.highereducationreview.com, and Chair, Improving Dispute Resolution Advisory Service www.idras.ac.uk