Inside the Bubble Week 10

Was the Vice-Chancellor’s response enough to save accessible education in Durham? Photo Credit: Samuel Kirkman

  • Rooms belonging to students from St. Chad’s College were burgled on Wednesday. Three police cars arrived on the Bailey in the early afternoon to investigate the crime, which saw technology worth thousands of pounds stolen from rooms occupied by first years. It is believed the thieves gained access through open second storey windows. Speaking to the Palatinate, a member of the college said: “The burglars were very professional – they picked back-rooms, only stole technology, and picked the best day and time to steal, which is a Wednesday afternoon.” An email sent to all St. Chad’s students reminded them to “ensure that outside doors are closed and bedroom doors are locked when you leave the room no matter how short the period”.
  • The Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge has sent an email to all students in response to a demonstration organised by Trevelyan College Left Society. The demonstration came in the form of a “funeral for accessible education” following the recent 3.5% increase in college accommodation fees, and attracted much media attention, including some from the national press. The email raised the prospect of more bursarial support for students from low income households and offered “more student choice via differential college fees”; however, it made no mention of demands for a two-year freeze of the price of accommodation in Durham. In a statement issued on Monday, the Trevelyan College Left Society said that they were “pleased that the Vice-Chancellor has chosen to acknowledge” their protest, and that they “welcome the prospect of further consultation”. Nevertheless, the group did not appear impressed with the proposals set out in the email, maintaining that the potential upper income limit for the new bursarial support (£26.5k) “is beyond unsatisfactory”. The statement also said that differentiation in college fees would “essentially constitute a social segregation by colleges in Durham”. They promised to “continue to escalate and mobilise the student body” until their demands for frozen college and international fees are met.
  • Durham police were summoned to a primary school in Stanley on Monday after some parents became concerned by a group of Muslim men praying outside the school. The response attracted criticism on social media, with some accusing the parents of being small minded and creating panic. A Durham police spokeswoman stated: “When an officer attended the men had moved on. We believe they were travelling and had stopped to pray prior to sunset in accordance with their beliefs.”
  • The President of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has said that English universities are “not very good at teaching”. Bahram Bekhradnia went on to say that the excellent research performance of UK institutions is “achieved at the expense of teaching”. In this context, he welcomed the idea of the Teaching Excellence Framework (a government proposal which would allow universities to increase fees in line with inflation if they score highly in various teaching based metrics), although he seemed unsure as to how effective the proposal would be in practice. In September Universities Minister Jo Johnson described some higher education teaching as “lamentable”.

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