bookmark_borderFewer students

Glasgow University (2)
Originally uploaded by ScubaBeer

In an article in The Herald it is claimed that “Scottish universities want to charge students fees of £12,000 for a four-year degree”.

Shocking as that is in its own right, I found the last part of the article even more interesting:

[U]niversities agreed with the Scottish Government to maintain student numbers this year, despite cuts to the teaching budget, by paying a portion of the costs themselves.

As a result, in 2011/12 some 19% of students, or nearly 28,000 learners, are “fees only students” – which means the Government pays only around a quarter of the cost of teaching them.

[…] [A]ny reduction of student numbers would hit first year students disproportionately hard, because universities cannot alter numbers in any other year. And it uses the example that, to achieve a 10% reduction in student numbers for a four-year course, first year admissions would have to be reduced by 40%.

Under last year’s total intake to Scottish universities of some 35,000 UK students, that would mean 14,000 fewer next year – although it is inconceivable cuts of this magnitude would be sanctioned by any Scottish Government. “If universities are not confident of the urgent introduction of a sustainable funding model, they will be forced to act to bring the student population back to a level which is closer to the number of fully funded student places. Failure to do so could jeopardise the quality and long-term reputation of Scotland’s universities,” the circular states.

“If student numbers had to be reduced, this would mean that increased numbers of well-qualified applicants would face rejection over late 2011, early 2012.”

I actually think it would be good to lower the number of university students in the medium term. There are far too many young people studying for degrees that aren’t going to help them find a job.

However, it’s not the best universities – such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and St. Andrews – that need to downsize; it’s the new ones that clearly aren’t as highly rated by employers.

Also, of course the government should create lots of good alternatives to a university study – I don’t suggest for one minute that the best alternative to going to university is simply to find a job straight after school.

Finally, it’s paramount that any change happens slowly. Reducing the number of university places by 40% in one year would be absolutely disastrous, which of course the universities know, which is why they’re saying it to call the government’s bluff.

bookmark_borderContinental time

CLOCK – Musée d’Orsay
Originally uploaded by danalipar

According to this article in The Telegraph, the British government are thinking about introducing ‘double summertime’.

Although they’re using this bizarre name for it, it’s really just continental time, also known as Central European Time, given that it would put the UK in exactly the same time zone as France, Germany, Denmark and many other countries.

For that reason, I’d support it – it’s always a hassle to have friends and family in another time zone.

However, what would it mean in practice here in Scotland?

Today, the 21st of February, the sun would have risen at 8.30am and set at 6.30pm. Not too horrible, given that schools start at 9.

On the 20th of December, however, daylight would be from 9.45am to 4.45pm (instead of 8.45am to 3.45am). In practice, that would mean that kids would travel to school in complete darkness for at least a month, but on the other hand they’d actually be able to play outside for an hour or two after school.

On the 20th of June, daylight would be from 5.30am to 11pm(instead of 4.30am to 10pm), which actually would suit me better.

So bring it on! If they’re really that worried about kids going to school in the dark, there’s nothing preventing northern schools from shifting their hours to compensate.