Student loan woes

Financial Support to Students, Statement by: David Lammy MP, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
I am now clear that decisive action is required to change the service and that the key to this is strengthening the leadership of the Company and ensuring that the customer is at the heart of everything the Company does. The Chair of the Student Loans Company has confirmed that the senior management team of the Company will be strengthened and reorganised.

Includes a link to the Hopkin Report.

Head of Student Loans Company under pressure to resign
An independent inquiry into this year’s fiasco, which saw tens of thousands of students start term with no cash, blames the delays on “management indecision and over-optimism” as bosses failed to act when a new computer system collapsed this summer. When the problems became apparent it operated a shut doors policy, refusing to engage with student unions, universities or the press to explain the problems.

Twitter networks, HE finance, HE admin

Explore your Twitter network with Mentionmap
Asterisq just released Mentionmap, an exciting web app for exploring your Twitter network. Discover which people interact the most and what they’re talking about. It’s also a great way to find relevant people to follow.

Study reveals lack of awareness over university bursaries and scholarships
The scope and clarity of information provided by universities and colleges about bursaries leave a lot to be desired, says the study. Almost one-half of students (44 per cent) thought there was too little information about how to apply for a bursary, though higher education institutions think they provide enough. Many universities need to do more, says the study. Three-quarters of students and two-thirds of parents did not realise that universities and colleges must give a minimum bursary to students receiving the full state maintenance grant. And, almost half the students surveyed (47 per cent) thought bursaries were one-off payments given to students in their first year.

V-c: scholars should lighten the administrative burden
Answering a question on “blended roles”, which mix academic and administrative tasks, she said: “I would like to see young academics accepting that is part of their contracts. I would like to change this sort of attitude that all you really do is teach or research, or in most cases both, and that you don’t have a sort of common responsibility towards helping to run the institution.”

The academic v administrator debate rumbles on, and still doesn’t get anywhere…

Paperless meetings, urban meditation

Paperless Committee project
The “Paperless Committee,” is an electronic meeting system that was designed to increase the efficiency of the Committee on NGOs. It allows the delegates to view the documentation in all six languages of the UN; to have continuous document updates from the Chair and the Secretariat, wireless connectivity, and electronic vote counting. In the last stage of the “Paperless Committee,” the documents were also accessible for the delegates to view via the Internet days before the Committee on NGOs started.

From 2003.

Urban meditation designed for you – The Hear and Now Project
Many of us could do with the benefits that come with regularly practising meditation – as it can help develop qualities such as calm, focus and compassion. And perhaps nowhere are these qualities needed more than in the hustle and bustle of modern city life.

VC award

Professor Dianne Willcocks, Vice-Chancellor of York St John University became the first woman ever to receive The Press’s Lifetime Achievement Award
She stepped up to receive the award after a tribute to her work that comes to an end when she retires from her post at the end of April, although she does plan to focus on her involvement with other educational, cultural and public service organisations in York and North Yorkshire.

Missing student data

Scandal of the students who never sat exams
There was widespread belief in the sector prior to 2004 that the rule was impractical and not applicable in its literal sense to higher education institutions with modular degree schemes and, in particular, to those with a strong widening participation ethos, many of whose students progress through university at an intermittent pace.

Managing time, visualising proportions

Testing time-management strategies
I asked a half-dozen executive coaches to help me pick the most widely used time-management systems—not just software tools or high-tech to-do lists, but behavioral-change techniques that help people get organized, clarify thinking and increase output. Then, I tried out for a week each of the three methods they mentioned most often—including one that involved a ticking plastic tomato.

The Pomodoro Technique™
The Pomodoro Technique™ is a way to get the most out of time management. Turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it.

Anything that uses lists, little boxes, ‘x’s and apostrophe markers can only be a good thing, right?

9 ways to visualize proportions – a guide
With all the visualization options out there, it can be hard to figure out what graph or chart suits your data best. This is a guide to make your decision easier for one particular type of data: proportions.

The pie, the donut, the stacked area, the stacked bar, the treemap, the voronoi, the nightingale (my new favourite) and the everything, all with links to real-world examples.

Twitter tips

100 great Twitter tips, tools & tutorials for serious students
Some social media networks are known as major time drainers for procrastinating students, but Twitter can also be used for school work, valuable networking, job searches and project management. Here are 100 great Twitter tips, tools and tutorials for serious college students who want to turn their Internet time into something valuable.

University fraud

University accused of £36m student scam
The body which funds English universities has taken the unprecedented step of calling for the mass resignation of governors at a university accused of misusing public money. A letter seen by The Independent from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to the chairman of governors at London Metropolitan University calls on members of the governing body and senior staff to “consider their position”.

HE technology, Eco’s lists

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World
Supported by the principal bodies and agencies in UK post-compulsory education, the Committee was set up in February 2008 to conduct an independent inquiry into the strategic and policy implications for higher education of the experience and expectations of learners in the light of their increasing use of the newest technologies.

SPIEGEL Interview with Umberto Eco: ‘We Like Lists Because We Don’t Want to Die’
The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.

Grauniad’s live blog of the A-level results day

Just came across the Guardian’s Mortarboard’s A-level results live blog. “Join us for a day of trends, tears and triumphs in our special results day blog”. As well as the expected stories around standards there was this gem:

1.30pm:

The prize for most self-assured student 2009 goes to…

Ibrahim Khan, 18, who had the audacity to send us his own press release letting us know about his 8 A-levels.

The student from Macmillan Academy in Middlesbrough got 6 As in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, History, Critical Thinking, and Urdu, and Bs in Arabic and Religious Studies.

The teenager has big plans for his forthcoming gap year, aiming to “get the first book of his WW3 trilogy published, do investigative journalism across the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, learn three languages, and start a business,” he informs us.

“The quality of A levels has gone down, so I decided to stand out with the quantity,” he said.

“Being from Middlesbrough, of Pakistani origin, and a Muslim, statistically three of the worst performing groups in education, I think my success shows that if you keep your aspirations high, you can achieve anything, whatever your background,” he added.

We cannot give out Khan’s email address in full, but suffice to say it includes the phrase “the best”. And who are we to disagree.

I love that idea of quantity making up for a perceived lack in quality. Read the rest here.