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Snippets: 22/05/2009

May 22 2009 19:07
Bugsy Malone
An utterly miserable non-column: No Confidence; Down, down, down; Fairtrade Fluff-up, Unspoken Apartheid; All Downhill from Here.
Usually we'd save good news for a rainy day. Today it's just bad news but at least it's sunny.

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...

Guardian League Tables

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.

Fairtrade Fluff-up

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

Diane Abbott, MP

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.

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Discussion about “Snippets: 22/05/2009”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
May 22 2009 20:54

"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."


It is true that there are very few black students at Imperial, however to say that it is majority white is f**king ridiculous. Anybody who had spent 5 f**king minutes on campus would know how ludicrous that idea is.

May 23 2009 12:22

felix never said that the steering committee were informed by Fairtrade that Imperial lost its status, it said that Fairtrade contacted "the commerical services department".

the reason that we lost fairtrade status is because while there may have been a steering committee in your year as DPEW kirsty, there wasn't one this year.

do you understand?

May 23 2009 14:08

Unspoken apartheid? Well, you can't blame Admissions for not wanting to collect all those international student tuition fees. Far too much paperwork.

May 24 2009 16:47

Yeah I understand.

I think the article was commenting more on the fact that Felix's opening line said 'Imperial College lost its Fairtrade status last week' when we lost it over a year ago. Also, we weren't contacted by the Fairtrade Foundation ('we' meaning anybody with any relation to Imperial be that commercial services or none existant Steering Committee). We found out that we lost the status due to someone in the Sherfield Building (Joseph Wilkins) contacting them.

Do you understand? ;)

I actually felt bad publishing a story in direct contrast to Felix's opening news story (hence the apology) but there were 'so many mistakes' as you pointed out! I honestly don't know how we ended up with such contrasting information.

Jonas - yeah I think we met all of once, just before Fairtrade Fortnight.

May 25 2009 13:32

how jonas neubert and kirsty ended up with such contrasting information

May 25 2009 16:51

If you are implying that Jonas was felix's source then it is even more of a mystery as he was also the person to email Live! (well me, but same thing).

Maybe Jonas can enlighten us all?

8. no...   
May 25 2009 17:56

i'm implying that it's funny that jonas doesn't know about the meeting that he apparently attended...

May 27 2009 23:17

that lmu wasn't in the guardian league tables because it's not in any league tables because it believes that the government should be the only assessor of university standards.

May 29 2009 18:39

Has Abbott visited Imperial? Nope

Jun 02 2009 03:45

Uh, I am the source to this article? Awesome, I didn't know that. But nevermind. I cannot remember having a steering group meeting but I am forgetful and we might well have had one.

The whole Fairtrade University thing never particularly bothered me personally. When I was chair of the Fairtrade Soc I found and today still find it much more interesting and important to inform people about such things as fair trade (and free trade and world trade) than getting permission to use a badly designed logo. The fact that IC lost Fairtrade status without even knowing just confirms to me that the UK Fairtrade Foundation is a joke.

Jun 02 2009 03:47

And before someone comes and wonders whether Kirsty made up the fact that she received an email from me: I sent her one to point out the "fluff-up" after I myself received one from that dude in the Blue Cube. I just didn't know this article was a consequence of that email.

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