Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

The Week in Higher Education

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

The Week in Higher Education

Article excerpt

The importance of evidence-based policy informed by academics is often the mantra you hear from governments when it comes to science, but such an approach has not always been so popular in other fields (see Michael Gove v "the Blob", for instance). However, in an apparent bid to give his economic policies some credence, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour's new leader, has assembled a panel of leading academic lights who have been critical of the West's approach to deficit reduction. They include Nobel prizewinner Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty, the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Robert Peston, the BBC's economics editor, suggested that not since Margaret Thatcher - whose economic policies were based on the thinking of free marketeers such as Milton Friedman - had a UK politician sought such "intellectual ballast" for their approach. Was this an oblique reference to Piketty's weighty tome?

Meanwhile, the link between academics and policy on science became a little fraught this week after Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health, admitted that she raised concerns to the editor of The Lancet about a paper in Nature that was about to be published suggesting that Alzheimer's could be transmitted between people. It followed an article in The Independent on 24 September that questioned whether Dame Sally was trying to undermine the research after revealing her as an unnamed source quoted by Lancet editor Richard Horton as having contacted him on the weekend before the paper was made public. Dame Sally insisted that she had simply raised "concerns about possible misreporting of health issues that might cause public alarm" rather than about the research itself after a "chance meeting" with Dr Horton at an airport.

Probably one of the biggest worries over the government's Prevent strategy was that it might lead to some ridiculous situation such as a student being accused of terrorism for sitting in the library reading a book about it. So it should come as no surprise that counter-terrorism student Mohammed Umar Farooq was questioned about his attitudes to terrorism after sitting in the library reading a book about terrorism. …

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