Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

The Week in Higher Education: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

The Week in Higher Education: News

Article excerpt

- Is higher education facing its "Napster moment"? The Financial Times' Michael Skapinker thinks not. Writing on 14 March, the columnist argued that traditional universities are unlikely to be upended by massive open online courses in the way that the music business has been hit by "disruptive innovation". Leading universities such as Harvard or Oxford would still prosper because "what students learn is less important than where they learnt", while former polytechnics could bank on their ability to make students more employable by "getting them to work on real company projects early on". Another flaw of Moocs is that people cannot concentrate for longer than five minutes on an online lecture, he said, adding: "Some online lecture sites boast impressive numbers of hits. But how long are people watching before they flip to Facebook?"

News, pages 10, 26

- Staff at New York University's largest faculty have passed a motion of no confidence in the institution's president, The New York Times reported on 15 March. An electronic ballot in the College of Arts and Science last week approved the motion against John Sexton's leadership by 298 votes to 224. While the vote has no binding effect, the paper said it was an "embarrassing setback" for Dr Sexton's plans to expand NYU at home and abroad. His critics said staff were dissatisfied with his emphasis on growth, a top-down management style and salary rises for senior employees. NYU's board of trustees released a statement after the vote saying it "unanimously and strongly supports President John Sexton and his strategic direction".

- An academic who helped one of his students to run a multi-million-pound tax scam is facing a lengthy spell in jail. In an unusual spin on "student mentoring", Tariq Hassan, a lecturer in finance at the University of East London, helped Bashar Al-Issa to run several fake companies as part of an elaborate plot to pocket Pounds 2.8 million in VAT and film tax credits, the Irish Mail on Sunday reported on 17 March. Al-Issa, 35, a bankrupt Iraqi businessman, falsely claimed he was making a Pounds 20 million Hollywood blockbuster, the paper said. But British authorities became suspicious after paying out Pounds 1 million, so a low-budget gangster thriller - appropriately called A Landscape of Lies - was hastily made to convince the authorities the tax claims were real. …

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