Author Topic: University Challenged  (Read 31526 times)

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #270 on: September 04, 2020, 08:13:58 PM »
From the Torygraph

Quote
A new document released by Sage today has said that significant Covid-19 outbreaks linked to universities are "highly likely" and could risk accentuating the spread of the virus nationwide.

The document suggests the wearing of face coverings in campus buildings and reducing in-person interactions as means of reducing the spread of the virus.

Quote
The newest Sage paper adds:

    Students who are residents in university accommodation should be segmented as far as possible to co-locate courses or year groups, to minimise networks between different parts of an institution.

    There is a significant risk that HE (Higher Education) could amplify local and national transmission, and this requires national oversight.

Segmented, eh?

I hate students as much as the next sane person, but chopping them into pieces is going a bit too far.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #271 on: September 04, 2020, 08:15:31 PM »
For your note, if the gov take on board "our" recommendations, this could be nipped in the bud...being done in the US at the moment.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #272 on: September 04, 2020, 11:34:16 PM »
The idea of keeping cohorts in classrooms that are clustered and close by is laughable -- maybe they're doing it with the year cohorts and courses on my campus, but I'm all over the fucking shop when it comes to constantly having to change classrooms, with my classes not only meeting in many different buildings, but on the satellite campus as well as the main campus.

The training session we did today is in a posh new building because the classrooms are bigger (so with distancing, we could fit 15 people into it). The classrooms on the main campus are pokey little things, often with poor ventilation.

My Fave is how the lecturer has to stand inside a box on the floor that's marked with tape. Cos germs and stuff will stop at the tape barrier.

I'm actually in decent health, and am pretty fit after a year or so of getting my diet sorted out and getting into a good exercise regime. I am not looking forward to being felled by covid and having the attendant health issues. There's so no way it's not going to spread like wildfire through the student housing and into the classrooms :(

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #273 on: September 04, 2020, 11:37:26 PM »
What's the policy on hazmat suits??

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #274 on: September 04, 2020, 11:41:50 PM »
Like most places, we’ve got classrooms dotted around everywhere. Students end up going to many different buildings for the same class.

We have two buildings which are just about all centrally bootable classrooms. On an average day hundreds of students troop into and out of each one of them. Even if that’s cut to a quarter I can’t see how it can work safely.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #275 on: September 05, 2020, 09:57:29 AM »
What's the policy on hazmat suits??

One of my colleagues showed up yesterday wearing a fleecey top with the sleeves pinned tightly at the wrists, and high boots; plastic gloves rubber-banded at the wrist, and a heavy mask with a filter on it.

Like most places, we’ve got classrooms dotted around everywhere. Students end up going to many different buildings for the same class.

We have two buildings which are just about all centrally bootable classrooms. On an average day hundreds of students troop into and out of each one of them. Even if that’s cut to a quarter I can’t see how it can work safely.

Every classroom has a bottle of sanitising wipes in it, and they are randomly placed throughout the building -- bearing in mind this is a posh reception building, and not an average classroom. Nor how grubby everything will invariably get once the students are back, the weather turns more and more wet and muddy, &c. No idea how they're going to keep the toilet blocks clean -- they're usually pretty gross once the students -- and certain members of staff -- return, as well.

Yep -- because of distancing, we now have students moving all over campus for different parts of the same class: no one is allowed to be together in a room for more than an hour, so whereas before we had classes in 1, 2, and 3 hour blocks, they're all broken up into one hour segments. So you can have a student in what had been a 3 hour class now having to move to three different sites (maybe the same day, maybe scattered across the timetable).

There's no guarantee that student housing is going to be as organised as all of this -- they're making attempts for the university housing to be 'safe', but 2/3 of our students rent house shares and other grotty properties around the city. We get horror stories about the filth levels in those properties at the best of  times -- two years back we had a clutch of students hospitalised for CO2 poisoning in one such property, and many of them get ill from black mold on others.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #276 on: September 05, 2020, 09:59:38 AM »
Living the dream

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #277 on: September 08, 2020, 10:28:41 AM »
Things have taken a really depressing turn here, as the president of the Students' Union has started going around saying he's going to do everything he can to make sure the university is teaching as much f2f as possible. It's clearly not safe, almost all staff disagree and he would be putting his own members at risk. What a stupid cunt.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #278 on: September 08, 2020, 11:17:14 AM »
Tell him to take a hike...to the boglands.

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #279 on: September 08, 2020, 01:32:56 PM »
Tell him to take a hike...to the boglands.

I'm sending the little toryboy an email which basically suggests this.

pancreas

  • The islets of Langerhans are the very best islets
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #280 on: September 08, 2020, 10:41:38 PM »
Things have taken a really depressing turn here, as the president of the Students' Union has started going around saying he's going to do everything he can to make sure the university is teaching as much f2f as possible. It's clearly not safe, almost all staff disagree and he would be putting his own members at risk. What a stupid cunt.

Those cunts are usually horrid little tory boys, jostling for position to be in first class on the politics gravy train.

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #281 on: September 08, 2020, 11:54:14 PM »
Those cunts are usually horrid little tory boys, jostling for position to be in first class on the politics gravy train.

That's exactly what this lad is, just desperately hanging off the coattails of the people who run the place.

The same goes for the (thankfully gone) head of the union that represents postgrads. Obviously, many members of the union are teaching assistants and the like, and during a very tense meeting when we were on the brink of calling for a strike action, we got her to admit she didn't know how much we were paid. She's going to turn up in the Senate or a similarly cushy political job in a few years, guaranteed.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #282 on: September 09, 2020, 01:36:32 AM »
I can tell you an awful tale of how one of these cunts has gotten away with it in my university. This is a guy who started his PhD last September having come off the back of a year as a sab in the SU - education officer, I think it was. As he began to share our office, weird things started to come out - he was funded through an external body with some sort of internal funding too - though not the traditional stipend and GTA affair with a load of the marking and teaching that the full academics don't fancy. He's got funding with no teaching or any other conditions attached as far as we can tell.

But this lad hasn't done a masters. I understand that's common in physical sciences, but this is a social science. He openly told us when he was interviewed they offered him a place on condition of doing an MRes first - but he turned around and quite literally said 'I don't want to waste a year on an MRes', and so he went straight onto a PhD.  On top of that, he's changed subject. While he got a first at UG, I ended up working with a retired lecturer who was on his exam board at the end, and the lad didn't beat the algorithm so they had to argue him over the line. He had obviously taught him and described him as a precocious knob head who is getting where he is through his contacts and not deserving of what he's doing now. Now we're in a position where his supervisor (head of school!) has left to become dean elsewhere and he's got the phone numbers of various top brass to get whatever he wants put on a plate for him. He's currently talking about getting it awarded by both institutions so he has two PhDs, which I see no real benefit in.

He's getting everything he wants. A ban on sessional work for PGRs but the HOS finds work somewhere at £300/day. Starts his ethics form two months in, and gets it approved in his first year despite not having passed his progression panel (as the rest of us had to). Gets fellowship with the HEA given to him with no 12 month course and no portfolio because the VC and HoS write a letter saying he's got the prerequisite experience! He's about 22, and his experience is the year as Eduction Officer! Absolutely infuriating, and the cunt has the front to be posting on twitter how proud he is be awarded it. This one rankles the most as someone who dropped out of the course because it was too much arse ache with everything else going on, and knowing the people teaching it were actively hostile to GTAs taking the higher level course.

His work is dreadful too, and he would not have excelled on an MA/Res. We were chatting and I mentioned some of the criteria he needs to think about and some practicalities, being quite a bit further along myself. I mentioned how he needs to think about his methods, and that there needs to be a coherence to what underpins it. Some others pitch in talking epistemology and ontology (I'm following well trodden steps in my field so only really need to mimic what has gone before). Someone tells him about Saunders' onion, he gets a fairly basic methods book from the library, and within days he's telling me he's written his 'philosophical standpoint section' despite going from interpretativist to pragmatist to realist to whatever and back again and having lifted a load of references from the first few pages of research for dummies. At this point he's 3 months into a PhD.

He's put a survey out, and it is utter shit. So bad I suspect it really needs to be scrapped and to start again. I have no idea what he's trying to do, and to be honest I don't know how he can be going from UG to a big piece of PGR research so quickly, but then you see the people he rubs shoulders with. I discovered by myself that PhDs are a racket and it can come down to a supervisor ghost writing large chunks and calling favours with externals. When I see just how bent the entire thing is, it's incredibly infuriating especially when I look at the shit I've had to put up with, mostly because his best pal HoS chased all the people in my field out of the bastard university.

I can sit and piss and moan, but it achieves fuck all really, doesn't it. I am a bit of a professional working class hero and have had to slog to get to this position where the rug has been pulled from under my feet. Meanwhile this precocious shithouse comes skipping along boasting about becoming a magistrate, being Johnny Two Doctorates, overselling other achievements, and being able to do so because he has people in high places that took a shine to him when he sucked up to them in meetings.

My apologies to those who managed to suffer through that, but I feel the need to vent as this really boils my piss. It really is a nice neat shattering of the illusion of meritocracy, as if anyone would be daft enough to believe it in the first place.





BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #283 on: September 09, 2020, 07:53:58 AM »
readers...his name is Jeffrey Epstein

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #284 on: September 09, 2020, 07:59:46 AM »
There's a similiar very young person who is our senior management team as an 'advisor': this wunderkind is responsible for some of the horrendous initiatives we're been tasked with over the past couple of years. He's got a u/g degree, and nothing further, but in the past two or three years, his uninformed. hare-brained schemes have become university policy because he's a prodigy and knows so much about what the u/gs want (most of his changes -- especially the many, many schemes about attendance -- have been protested up one side and down the other by the actual student body, including the Student Union.)

Most of his suggestions are never tested; they're implemented usually with very little lead time and even less information about how they're actually meant to be carried out. No surprise as he's never taught or led a classroom.

A number of the initiatives for covid-era teaching have come from him, including the u-turns and backtracking on policies. Over the past few weeks, we have had several major changes in policy and plans over how we're meant to deliver this semester to the point where you cannot plan more than 48 hours ahead, lest you get a lecture/seminar plan in place, only to be told, 'Nope, we're now doing it THIS way.' One is example is how we're meant to record our lectures -- initially, we were told there were three optional platforms, and IT were put to work crafting instruction manuals for all three. Then wonderboy decided only ONE platform should be used for consistency -- the worst and buggiest of the options available -- meaning that all of the instruction manuals were no longer any good, and completely new training had to be thrown together for this fourth platform. I had a colleague in tears as she'd spent a month recording lectures on what was now an incompatible system.

My timetable, which I didn't get until just last week (they usually show up in July), has been changed twice now already, and I'm told a new update is coming through this week. This guy can't decide if we should rota students through hybrid seminars or simply have loads of very small seminar groups so that all students can have face-to-face teaching every week (a rota would mean that students were on campus every other week, instead of all 12, and that is just no good for the student experience according to SM). This has a heck of an impact on teaching, because, for example, one colleague who would have had a large group of students dialling in for a single seminar once a week, now has to teach the same seminar 6 times in a single week due to classroom size and social distancing. However, these hours are not workloaded in, because 'It's the same class, repeated 6 times. So one hour prep, and the rest is just repetition, so it's not any extra work.'

That said, over the past two weeks, he's flipped back and forth over whether or not we should teach on a rota or whether we should have lots of smaller seminars every week, and the timetables keep being updated accordingly.

Apparently, the latest thing this person has demanded (came through last Friday at 1655 -- his favourite time to send around new initiatives) is so outrageous that my HoD claims it was never received by anyone in our programme. Apparently it was some mental scheme that we're expected to phone on Teams, once a week, each student on our modules and to check in with them to see how they're engaging with the work on the module that week and to take note of any feedback from said students and to let them know how we plan to fold it into the subsequent weeks' lessons. I have six modules this team, and roughly a total of 100 or so students. (If I were a student, I wouldn't want a phone chat with my tutor every flipping week, let alone constantly update my lectures/seminars/delivery/whatever!)

It's absolutely mental that this person has so much influence over policy and practice, and that senior management nod and allow all of these schemes to come to pass.

drummersaredeaf -- sometimes you need to rant. You get those sorts of people in the actual department, as well.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #285 on: September 09, 2020, 02:02:50 PM »
I wonder if my particular problem child is much like yours, Atilla. Made the right noises about student experience in the meetings about student experience and has ingratiated himself into management circles as a result. We're all careful what we say around him, certainly - unless wanting to let things get back to people.

I think what rankles most is knowing he will be one of the cases that coasts through with minimal drama. For me losing supervisors has been absolutely catastrophic - they've recast the school in a new image, and shifted out swathes of good people to replace them with teaching fellows and much different research interests, so now I'm left being supervised by a guy that doesn't know my field. I'm at a proper make or break point - I've had three lead supervisors over the last 3 years, a leave of absence with all the disruption, and I'm left pretty much entirely on my own because the expertise has left. I'm now going to have to beg for a 6-12 month extension, which I feel I should get, but even then the supervision situation leaves me fairly cast adrift. This lad phones up the pro VC for research and is able to start talking about external supervision and having it awarded twice. One day he'll be lauded as an expert on the radio or TV for this shit because he's a rampant self-publicist, and I fear he will never be shown up as a fraud. He is of course, a Tory too. Bizarrely, I'm the one in the office who hates him least.

In terms of the Rona, it has been an absolute disaster for me in that it completely halted the fieldwork I had arranged, having had a real nightmare with access anyway. It is also an opportunity too though, so I have to remain hopeful. It has created the opportunity to beg for an extension which otherwise may not have been granted, and I won't finish without it. I research the world of work, so it will also make findings much more interesting and it will be impossible for an external to argue its not novel. I have found the entire experience has drained me of any enthusiasm for wanting to continue to work in HE though. I see what has happened at mine - a palpable change in mood over the last few years - which has come from management driven 'change' initiatives as much as it has from the marketisation of HE (the two are of course intertwined).

The university is a campus affair, and is clearly doing everything it can to get punters in. I presume it makes a sizeable income off renting accommodation out, but this will surely be proven to be misguided. Imagine 3000 people turning up from all corners of the country and the rest of the world to find that there's a fresh lockdown in November. Trapped in a corridor of 15 people that you've known a month but being unable to leave. Having to leave the accommodation (temporarily?) but wondering if you'll continue to pay rent. This spring/summer it became a ghost town other than the handful of int'l students that couldn't (or chose not to) leave, and I know some lost their mind because I was having to coach them through assignments. It has the potential to go full Big Brother House very quickly, and from experience I know campus universities can be really tedious even when everything is open.

I find myself hoping they fail and cease to exist to be perfectly honest, which was utterly unimaginable 3-4 years ago. A genuinely nice place to work utterly transformed partially through the pressures of the market, but also because some senior managers have wanted to show they can flex and someone had a few harebrained ideas. I hope the UCU really tries to use this as an opportunity to flex though. Health and safety is one of the few areas where unions can try to pull weight, as there is actual concrete law for workplaces to follow. It's also possibly a campaign that even the cunts that won't strike for workloads or pensions could get behind too. Managers always use these 'shocks' as a means to recast patterns of control though, and I fear this, in combination with other assorted factors, will make HE dog dirt across the board.


Blue Jam

  • Some problems in the theory of molecular vibration
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #286 on: September 09, 2020, 03:07:29 PM »
drummersaredeaf, who is this person and where can lay a fiver on them becoming a Tory prime minister by 2050?

Attila, who is your problem child and where can I lay a fiver on them becoming a Blue Sky Thinker to a prime minister?

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #287 on: September 09, 2020, 04:14:43 PM »
drummersaredeaf, who is this person and where can lay a fiver on them becoming a Tory prime minister by 2050?

Depends on whether drummersaredeaf teaches at Oxford/Cambridge or not, though I'm surprised at how many of the present cabinet ministers studied at 'normal' universities. Patel must be a first for Keele and Essex, Williamson for Bradford, and Sharma for Salford, unless there were some who just passed me by.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #288 on: September 09, 2020, 04:18:36 PM »


The university is a campus affair, and is clearly doing everything it can to get punters in.

I'm guessing Cambridge

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #289 on: September 09, 2020, 04:27:56 PM »
drummersaredeaf, who is this person and where can lay a fiver on them becoming a Tory prime minister by 2050?

Attila, who is your problem child and where can I lay a fiver on them becoming a Blue Sky Thinker to a prime minister?

God help us if the pair of them get together.

Don't get me started on the clueless trustfarian colleague who's managed to blag funding this semester, is only heading two team-taught modules, walks to campus courtesy of her spouse springing for a £3M house, and sending around emails saying, 'Just a few updates on how to run your section of the module -- hope you're actually doing some prep work and not hiding under the blankets pretending that the semester isn't starting soon [winking smilie]'.

Fuck. Off.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #290 on: September 09, 2020, 04:34:39 PM »
No, I'm at a 'normal' second division sort of establishment. My ambitions extended to getting a perm (or at least a decent term) job somewhere in a reasonably sized city, with no pretences that I belong anywhere remotely prestigious. My gaff did have a very good department for my subject, but alas that is now all change. Some of the best in my field are at pretty normal universities too.

I ultimately just want to be able to tell some jumped up prick in bad shoes that it's doctor, actually when I'm back in a shit job. Though all the people I know that have graduated recently have tended to end up in permanent jobs. Some at quite good universities. Maybe there is hope.

Blue Jam

  • Some problems in the theory of molecular vibration
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #291 on: September 09, 2020, 05:11:02 PM »
Depends on whether drummersaredeaf teaches at Oxford/Cambridge or not, though I'm surprised at how many of the present cabinet ministers studied at 'normal' universities. Patel must be a first for Keele and Essex, Williamson for Bradford, and Sharma for Salford, unless there were some who just passed me by.

I'd be surprised if more politicians hadn't gone to Essex. Good for European studies and they get all the best drugs.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #292 on: September 09, 2020, 05:29:36 PM »
I'd be surprised if more politicians hadn't gone to Essex. Good for European studies and they get all the best drugs.

I was thinking of politicians who made it to the cabinet. I know a few who became MPs but didn't ultimately become senior ministers (Bercow most famously), but it looks like Virginia Bottomley was the only other Essex grad besides Patel to serve as one (Secretary of Health, John Major's government).

I also learned that one of our Prime Ministers went to Birkbeck (Ramsay MacDonald), which was my "Fuck me, really?!" for the day.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #293 on: September 09, 2020, 06:58:50 PM »
Didn't Bercow go to Essex too?

shagatha crustie

  • Huff the talbot
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #294 on: September 10, 2020, 09:04:36 AM »
HE is fucked. Combo of market pressure and this. Uni I work at is in a right flap about reputational risk because of the scapegoating of young people and the inevitability of city wide pissups when they're all back in September, but also alienating students and losing their precious student satisfaction (Bang for Buck) score by not being able to put on any welcome events.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #295 on: September 10, 2020, 09:49:11 AM »
HE is fucked. Combo of market pressure and this. Uni I work at is in a right flap about reputational risk because of the scapegoating of young people and the inevitability of city wide pissups when they're all back in September, but also alienating students and losing their precious student satisfaction (Bang for Buck) score by not being able to put on any welcome events.

fuck them, they chose the corporate path, don't let those who work for you or the students get the blame.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #296 on: September 10, 2020, 10:17:12 PM »
Update on my man:

He's been boasting to friends that he's writing a chapter for routledge on blended teaching during/after covid. To reiterate, his teaching experience is non-existant. He's also managed to swerve the ban on seasonal work by taking a module that falls under my subject knowledge.

Two friends have received the same text telling them how busy he is. Wave 2 can cannot come quickly enough.

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #297 on: September 10, 2020, 10:21:50 PM »
Update on my man:

He's been boasting to friends that he's writing a chapter for routledge on blended teaching during/after covid. To reiterate, his teaching experience is non-existant. He's also managed to swerve the ban on seasonal work by taking a module that falls under my subject knowledge.

Two friends have received the same text telling them how busy he is. Wave 2 can cannot come quickly enough.

I've never even met this guy and I hate him.

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #298 on: September 10, 2020, 10:23:28 PM »
These are the people who coast through life in safety and luxury, totally guilt free.

It drives me mad.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #299 on: September 11, 2020, 07:41:55 AM »
These are the people who coast through life in safety and luxury, totally guilt free.

It drives me mad.

Yup -- as above, I've got one in my department. They finally showed up to the sixth and last practice/training/screaming-into-the-void session we had yesterday (six hours' worth on Teams!) to work out how we're going to teach seminars, how to set up the classrooms, etc. Made a big show over being the manic pixie person, asking the same questions we'd already hashed out back in the first meeting, and so tediously had to go over again for them.

They've got a habit of echoing good suggestions and ideas from other people, but with this, 'Heeyyyy -I have a great idea! Why don't we try it this way!' As if thinking up plans, ideas, solutions on their own.

When put on the spot, after bragging about being really tech savvy and knowledgeable about online teaching, all you get from them is a load of waffle and lots of buzzwords to hide that they don't know the answer.

Now I've been doggedly attending all of these, and I do have some background in running a lot of multi-media in the classroom, although not at this level -- but it's allowed me to make suggestions about how to keep things simple and effective for my lesser-techy colleagues, and to offer creative solutons for their traditional means to teach. I've had a lot of positive feedback, and several colleagues have contacted me behind the scenes to admit feeling nervous about the new semester, and just asking for reassurance -- big toughies in my dept, to whom *I* usually turn for help or mentorship. In the meetings, there's been a lot of 'Attila had a good suggestion that...' and 'Wait, Attila, what was it you said about?'

This is intolerable to this person, who has a habit of trying to talk over me in meetings in general, anyway, or interrupting me, or shooting down anything I say (despite later stealing any ideas from me -- and others -- and presenting it as their own). They tried it on yesterday when someone asked me directly a question, talking over me about something completely different. Usually for me it feels like that scene in one of the Austin Power films where the son is trying to talk, and Dr Evil keeps shushing him, til the son gives up in frustration.

Yesterday, I'd had enough of their shit and uncharacteristically jacked up my volume, offered them a cup of shut the fuck up, and suggested they not fucking talk over me when I'm trying to answer someone's question.

Finished answering, then I retreated to my lair of silence, as usual. Really not in the mood for that shit at present.

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