Author Topic: University Challenged  (Read 32072 times)

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #630 on: October 23, 2020, 06:15:14 PM »
I'm a bit mixed about the whole thing. Online has been relatively painless, the lecturers are basically competent at running teams sessions, personable, and the content is well explained and engaging. Reading the trouble people are having running that stuff on here only increases my admiration. My main problem is I'm just struggling to get into the right working head space at home. Doesn't help that as part of my access course last term to get here, I covered most of the stuff their currently doing, so I don't feel intellectually switched on.

I'm at Notts Trent, but at the agricultural college which is out in the countryside. I have less sympathy for all the people who went out on freshers, just irresponsible, and putting everyone else in danger (am old cynic though). Then I was shocked any of this stuff was still being put. Thankfully being at least 10 years older than everyone else, the whole thing never appealed. It's been interesting regards to going in, with the first practical animal handling lesson just being me and the tutor, due to everyone else being in isolation. Could definitely get used to that.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #631 on: October 26, 2020, 03:34:21 PM »
Probably not the right thread, but I read this and was astonished

Quote
By one estimate, the pandemic has cost colleges at least $120 billion, with even Harvard University, despite its $41.9 billion endowment, reporting a $10 million deficit that has prompted belt tightening.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/26/us/colleges-coronavirus-budget-cuts.html

A $10m shortfall has lead to cuts, rather than dip into the kitty that exists to keep the university afloat and take out 0.024% of the value. Does this not seem absolutely insane?

Why the fuck is an education institution focusing on accruing capital at the expense of sacking workers? That seems crazy. Similar to the grauniad thread from a few months back - there are Smaug-like vaults owned by these institutions they could use to plug any gaps, as the funds were intended to be used (!), but instead, they are cutting jobs and making decisions that have real, lasting impacts on actual human beings.

Am I misreading this? Has the world always been in this bonkers? What possible argument could a university make for maintaining all this cash if not for exactly this type of crisis? There is a weak defence offered later in the article but it holds absolutely zero water with me (“we only made $300m last year so have to sack everyone to cover the $10m hole this year”).

Blue Jam

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #632 on: October 26, 2020, 06:14:59 PM »
Probably not the right thread, but I read this and was astonished

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/26/us/colleges-coronavirus-budget-cuts.html

A $10m shortfall has lead to cuts, rather than dip into the kitty that exists to keep the university afloat and take out 0.024% of the value. Does this not seem absolutely insane?

That may be comparable to the situation at King's College London a few years back, when the suits realised the university owned a lot of prime central London real estate and could make money hosting conferences and renting it out, so they decided it would be good to focus on that and close a department or two and sack a load of teaching and research staff. You know, people who do teaching and research, the two things a university is set up to do.

I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing, sadly.

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #633 on: October 26, 2020, 06:20:53 PM »
It turns out my uni’s Covid figures aren’t as good as they at first seem. The main website has a rolling total of cases which is now only a little over 100. But, apparently, the number in the halls is around 500. Quite how that can be considered separate from the university itself I don’t really understand.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #634 on: October 27, 2020, 09:19:52 AM »
We have a dashboard that helpfully tells you the number of cases we had on campus within 2 days of the positive test.

That number is 4.

Cheers!

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #635 on: October 27, 2020, 09:20:58 AM »
That may be comparable to the situation at King's College London a few years back, when the suits realised the university owned a lot of prime central London real estate and could make money hosting conferences and renting it out, so they decided it would be good to focus on that and close a department or two and sack a load of teaching and research staff. You know, people who do teaching and research, the two things a university is set up to do.

I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing, sadly.

Chemistry, that's got labs that sit empty for hours at a time and needs loads of specialist staff. What a waste.

(while completely failing to realise such labs need a lot of work to decontaminate and turn into anything else).

Zetetic

  • Worrying the carcass of an old song.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #636 on: October 27, 2020, 09:44:34 AM »
Looks like one solution to having far too many cases in unis is going to be roll out a self-test with a sufficiently high false negative rate.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #637 on: October 29, 2020, 08:15:54 AM »
I'm a bit mixed about the whole thing. Online has been relatively painless, the lecturers are basically competent at running teams sessions, personable, and the content is well explained and engaging. Reading the trouble people are having running that stuff on here only increases my admiration. My main problem is I'm just struggling to get into the right working head space at home. Doesn't help that as part of my access course last term to get here, I covered most of the stuff their currently doing, so I don't feel intellectually switched on.

I'm at Notts Trent, but at the agricultural college which is out in the countryside. I have less sympathy for all the people who went out on freshers, just irresponsible, and putting everyone else in danger (am old cynic though). Then I was shocked any of this stuff was still being put. Thankfully being at least 10 years older than everyone else, the whole thing never appealed. It's been interesting regards to going in, with the first practical animal handling lesson just being me and the tutor, due to everyone else being in isolation. Could definitely get used to that.

It's really interesting hearing from people on the other side of this.

I am worried about our first year students - I picture them being confined to their tiny rooms in hall, being force fed with Sandwich Lunch B - but I suspect the reality may not be as grim as this. Certainly they are engaging well in my course, and generally uni work is the first thing to go down the pan when students are stressed / depressed so perhaps a sign that they are coping ok. It would be good to have a clearer picture of this, because other than that I think we are doing a fairly decent job of all this (although I'm slightly nervous about saying that on a public forum, in case it comes back to bite me on the arse).

I was not at all surprised that our 1st year intake held up. If I was 18, what would I have done? Travelled the world? Not when you'd have to spend the whole time in quarantine, and wouldn't know if you could get back. Get a job? Yeah, right. Oh, and my A Level results were a bit better than expected, so if I wait until next year when I might actually have to sit an exam... Equally, I am sure that hall outbreaks and self-isolation would have made me even more miserable than I was when I started university. I might have taken the option to return home and study from there; or possibly I might have made a couple of decent mates and decided to stick it out. I've heard stories of people doing both.

Blue Jam

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #638 on: October 29, 2020, 10:37:16 AM »
Yes, when I was 18 I was absolutely desperate to escape my miserable little village, the 'vid wouldn't have put me off back then. Although if I was 18 now the tuition fees would have kept me in that miserable little village...

Here it looks like we'll be starting to relax our 'elf and safety rules a bit, and we'll be opening up our lecture theatre for a bit of socially-distanced face-to-face learning. It sounds like it'll be managed pretty well tbf.

We've also had a bit of a telling-off for doing lots of lab work but not enough data analysis, and demands to know why we're not using the powerful and expensive computers that have been conveniently locked up inside our offices... It looks like I'm now getting my custom-built microscopy data computer delivered to ma hoose so I can actually get some work done. It's not ideal and I'm having to sort myself out with a very compact home office space, but the original plan to get people back in their offices by January seems to have gone right out the window.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #639 on: October 29, 2020, 10:51:22 AM »
Again, I think at the start of this, people were expecting a greater degree of normality come Autumn, and more-or-less business as usual in 2021. I think it's now accepted we're in this for the long haul.

I am very interested in seeing hard data wrt transmission under 2m social distancing in our teaching spaces. All I know is that the number of cases among our staff are so small there are no numbers to crunch. I guess one would need to look across the whole sector to get any decent statistics, but that would be confounded by different institutions having different policies.

EDIT: agree re fees. They need to go... but we still need to decide what HE is actually for. Stuff like this https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/oct/24/its-had-a-lasting-impact-students-on-being-bullied-over-their-accents makes me think that most school-leavers should do something else.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #640 on: October 29, 2020, 10:54:54 AM »
I'm curious, has anyone had a student hijack an online lecture and start closing stuff down, booting people out? Cause I've been in a couple of lectures where that's happened, and it's infuriating. I'm hoping the consequences if caught are severe.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #641 on: October 29, 2020, 10:58:31 AM »
Nope, because I'm using a system where that's not possible. In fact, we have the opposite problem of trying to get people to engage by opening their mics and talking. It seems text chat is the favoured way to interact.

It would be contrary to our code of conduct to behave like that. Either the lecturer or the student could make a complaint to get the process started - at least, that's how it works where I am and I understand that most universities have the same sorts of procedures. (That said, when I read QAA case studies on this sort of thing, I have encountered case studies of the process at other institutions that have been a bit eyebrow raising).

Blue Jam

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #642 on: October 29, 2020, 11:03:03 AM »
We've got a problem in that the places where we have to wear masks, like lab spaces and stock rooms, are big and empty and relatively safe, but areas like break rooms and cafes, where people don't wear masks because they're eating, are crowded and don't feel very safe at all. Also people are bringing in laptops and using the cafe as an office space because they can't use their offices, and this is the only way to get data analysis done in, say, the 2 hours you're waiting for an incubation step of an experiment to finish. We may as well have reopened the library for all the overcrowding we're getting here.

Blue Jam

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #643 on: October 30, 2020, 02:54:43 PM »
Just taken delivery of a compact office desk, the same one half the country seems to have bought from Amazon, and set up my little home office/man cave. Quite pleased with it actually but would rather just have access to my office at werk.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #644 on: October 30, 2020, 05:21:30 PM »
Irony being, of course, there's probably plenty of empty offices lying around that you could use. Mine, for example.

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #645 on: October 31, 2020, 11:30:39 AM »
Looks like Lockdown II: The Wrath of Covid won’t apply to universities, but will it still have an effect on how we operate?

My uni seems quite pleased at how low its numbers are, but no one really knows if it is down to all the social distancing work we’ve done or just luck. There’s about a month to the end of term. How will that go?

Sebastian Cobb

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Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #648 on: November 06, 2020, 11:32:11 PM »
My university has seriously ramped up open days (like, holding them practically every week now -- if not the official ones on Saturdays, then special mid-week evening, six-hour extravaganzas. They can't figure out why no one is rushing to host the evening ones -- maybe because we're all working 7 days weeks just to keep up with all of the other shit, and no one wants to be doing welcome events and talks from 4pm through to 10pm in the middle of the week? Dunno, just a guess.)

Whee.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #649 on: November 07, 2020, 09:15:11 AM »
My university has seriously ramped up open days (like, holding them practically every week now -- if not the official ones on Saturdays, then special mid-week evening, six-hour extravaganzas. They can't figure out why no one is rushing to host the evening ones -- maybe because we're all working 7 days weeks just to keep up with all of the other shit, and no one wants to be doing welcome events and talks from 4pm through to 10pm in the middle of the week? Dunno, just a guess.)

Whee.

Corporate bell-ends. Push back against these clowns. Make Universities great again.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #650 on: November 07, 2020, 09:16:20 AM »
Maybe you could have a word with your new bezzie mate Cummings to make that happen?

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #651 on: November 07, 2020, 09:46:20 AM »
Maybe you could have a word with your new bezzie mate Cummings to make that happen?

What? He wants the dismantling of the academic system in favour of institutes becoming independent (data science institute for example), he won't listen to me.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #652 on: November 07, 2020, 10:47:29 AM »
Quite. And it's not like Attila's VC will listen to her either.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #653 on: November 07, 2020, 11:06:47 AM »
Quite. And it's not like Attila's VC will listen to her either.

Would not a threat of withdrawal of labour work - given she is one of one who can do her job? oh, just seen that they could just close the programme.

OK, I've got Dom on my WhatsApp now, let's structure a message between us.

Dom, Dom Corleone. Dom Perignon, the Domster!

How's it hanging. Been putting a shift in, 96 hours flat out. Yeh yeh yeh, I know you hate this braggadocio and this is the minimum expected...well, got a little favour to ask...


greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #654 on: November 07, 2020, 11:26:09 AM »
Would not a threat of withdrawal of labour work - given she is one of one who can do her job? oh, just seen that they could just close the programme.

Yes, they've got her over a barrel. What's needed is for the trade union to get its arse into gear and prioritise people keeping their jobs and conditions in the face of a management that seems bent on using covid as a smokescreen to drive through changes they've been attempting for years. Unfortunately, I have as much control over my trade union as I do over my VC.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #655 on: November 07, 2020, 02:52:01 PM »
Sadly, it's true -- they'd be very happy if I threw my toys out of the pram, because then they could 'encourage' me into redundancy, which would close my programme (and put three other people out of jobs -- which may happen to me anyway, as another person on my programme has had enough and is making noises about seeing out this year & resigning).

We're supposedly way down on applications compared to this time last year, so the inevitable hit of redundancies already planned for next summer will be even harsher. Word on the street is that they want to dump all of our arts & humanities programmes. Good times.

Meanwhile, I'm spending most of today and a good 6 hours or so Sunday, as usual, scrambling to keep up with all of the stuff we're meant to be doing for blended learning, all of the additional paperwork and logistics staff now have to measure about student engagement, and the fuckton of marking that has started rolling in on a weekly basis.  I don't even think of Sat & Sun as being the weekend anymore; just two days where I don't have to commute.

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #656 on: November 07, 2020, 02:53:40 PM »
Fuck it, get the redundancy.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #657 on: November 07, 2020, 03:03:53 PM »
Fuck it, get the redundancy.

. Gah, never mind, I'm getting too moany :).

Back to work!

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #658 on: November 07, 2020, 03:05:24 PM »
Yes, they've got her over a barrel. What's needed is for the trade union to get its arse into gear and prioritise people keeping their jobs and conditions in the face of a management that seems bent on using covid as a smokescreen to drive through changes they've been attempting for years. Unfortunately, I have as much control over my trade union as I do over my VC.

*paging Pancreas*

pancreas

  • The islets of Langerhans are the very best islets
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #659 on: November 08, 2020, 11:05:52 AM »
Happy to give advice on UCU matters by PM.

I recently got accidentally cc'd into an email to Exec Board, discussing an email I'd sent to members—which immediately get leaked to executive board. 'Not a bad email from pancreas, to be fair,' replied the VC. Was this close to replying to all with 'Thanks Dad.'

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