We tried to scrape the barrel for something cheery this week but we couldn't. But neither, apparently, could felix so here is the last fortnight's miserable goings-on:
Year Reps No-Confidenced
Two Electrical Engineering Year Representatives were No Confidenced last week at a meeting of the CGCU Executive Committee. The meeting decided unanimously to remove the year reps after an extensive dossier on their behaviour was presented by Academic Affairs Officer Alex Grisman. This was aided by a Court Ruling into their un-constitutional suspension and the involvement of the Departmental Society and Staff. The year reps, who had solicited money from their peers in December, did not attend the meeting to defend themselves despite numerous invitations. In fact, there was no-one present from the Electrical Engineering Department which caused concern during the meeting but it was deemed fair to pass a verdict due to the reps having a chance to appeal.
Down, down, down...
Imperial has fallen to eighth in the most recent Guardian League Tables from sixth place last year. Overtaken by Edinburgh and fellow London-based institution UCL for the 2010 version of the League Table, Imperial has been steadily declining from it's third place ranking in 2007. UCL on the other hand has been on an upwards trend during the same period and has this finally excelled beyond Imperial to clinch the sixth place spot we inhabited last year. More on this next week in a special In Depth article looking at Imperial's apparent demise.
Imperial has recently discovered that it's Fairtrade University Status was rather more short lived than originally expected. The accreditation, gained in 2007, was lost at the end of that academic year due to failing to send a renewal. As part of the status a Fairtrade University is required to have a Fairtrade Steering Committee which should meet each year to coordinate the Fairtrade Fortnight Campaigns and the Fairtrade Accreditation renewal. The last time the Steering Committee met was early in 2008 when it consisted of DPEW Kirsty Patterson, Fairtrade Chair Jonas Neubert, Head of Catering Jane Neary, Faculty of Medicine Projects and Operations Manager Janet Holland and Strategic Purchasing Advisor Andy Hitchman.
The Steering Committee, despite not having met, were not actually informed of their loss of Fairtrade Status by the Fairtrade Foundation (sorry felix, we're not sure where you got your information from). With current Union Policy still in place it shouldn't take long for Imperial to get back on the right side of the bureaucrats and iron out this years hiccough.
The discovery was made by accident when Joseph Wilkins, a Project Support Officer in the Sherfield Building contacted the Fairtrade Foundation as part of his work into the Sustainibility of Imperial College to ask what Imperial had done to gain the accreditation. Live! acknowledges that on this occasion we have the Sherfield Building's inability to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing to thank for discovering this little fluff-up!
Unspoken Apartheid at Imperial
In a debate held at Westminster Hall on Wednesday two labour MPs have criticised Imperial for it's majority white student population and apparent over-funding. Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, spoke during the debate saying "I draw the House's attention to the unspoken apartheid in higher education in London. The Russell group, including Imperial and the LSE, is largely white, and some of the former polytechnics are largely black and minority ethnic."
This was fuelled by a debate around the future of London Metropolitan University (LMU) and the perceived disadvantage that the University suffered during HEFCE funding allocations. Ian Gibson, another Labour MP for Norwich North, further implicated Imperial in the demise of LMU by suggesting there should be more "financial collaboration between them [London Universties], instead of rivalry". He continued saying, "Let us have some money from Imperial going into London Met."
Live! wonders which statistics these politicians decided to use in order to tarnish all Russell Group Universities with the same (rather monochrome) brush. Imperial has a large and diverse international student population which is only shadowed by the high proportion of overseas students at the London School of Economics. On a separate, but not entirely unrelated note, LMU was one of only two Universities to decline to have it's data published in this year's Guardian League Tables.
All Downhill from Here
The Vice Chancellor of Warwick University, Professor Nigel Thrift, has spelled doom for the UKs leading Research universities over the course of the next 20 years. During the Fulbright Lecture at the Royal Society he reviewed the current situation of Higher Eduction in the UK as being "at the high point of both [its] reputation and influence" but warned that it was all "downhill from here".
It's not all doom and gloom for Imperial though as Thrift singled the College out along with Oxford, Cambridge and UCL as "truly global research universities" who would be "just a few bright stars that are still able to hold on to the quality required to survive in a more competitive global higher education sector".
Thrift's recommendations would see the rest of the Russell Group, aswell as other leading research institutions in the UK, merging in order to keep up with the demand for high class research and a competitive output of research papers. Mergers and collaborations with leading American institutions were also highly recommeded during Thrift's rather dismall portrayal of the future for UK research and education.