The Week in Higher Education

Times Higher Education, February 7, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Week in Higher Education


A joke candidate lampooning the supposed ineffectiveness of presidents of the National Union of Students has been accepted on to the union's ballot. Samuel Gaus, democracy and communications officer at University College London Union, is running for president as "nominated bearer of The Inanimate Carbon Rod". The stunt is a tribute to the green cylinder named Worker of the Week - ahead of Homer Simpson - at Springfield's nuclear plant in an episode of The Simpsons. In its manifesto, Carbon Rod says that doing nothing would achieve more than recent NUS presidents, who are accused of "selling out" to the government. Initially barred by electoral rules, Mr Gaus was added to the ballot on 30 January after agreeing to remove from campaign material Simpsons images that allegedly breached copyright laws.

Coughing during a classical music concert is often a deliberate expression of disapproval, a study has suggested. Research by Andreas Wagener, professor of economics at the University of Hanover, found that people cough twice as much as is normal during a classical music concert, with many doing so to register disgust, The Independent reported on 30 January. The volume of coughing rises in slow, quiet moments of a performance or during unfamiliar or complex pieces, the research found. People might hack away to "test unwritten boundaries of courtesy, to comment on the performance, or simply document one's presence", the work posits.

Russell Group universities are killing off key subjects such as economics and philosophy at secondary schools, the head of a top grammar school has claimed. In an open letter to Wendy Piatt, the group's director general, Hilda Clarke, head of Tiffin School in Kingston upon Thames, said the demise of several subjects had been caused in part by the group's promotion of traditional academic A levels, known as "facilitating subjects", The Independent reported on 31 January. However, many students were no longer choosing disciplines outside the Russell Group's list for fear of harming their university prospects, said Ms Clarke. The trend could lead to subjects including music, politics and government, economics and art being wiped from the syllabus at some schools, she claimed. …

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