The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

by Joshua Gaskell

Tag: University

Saturday, 8th October 2016

A shy and uncertain student writes home at the end of freshers’ week:

I am far quieter than the other students (as you know, mum), and had nothing whatever to do with the vandalism which was carried out by the Wreckers. This sinister and diabolical self-designation is a kind of mark of their urbane sophistication. I live among them shamelessly ashamed of not being one of the gang. I keep company with them and sometimes delight in their friendship, though I always hold their actions in abhorrence. The Wreckers wantonly persecute shy and unknown freshmen. Their aim is to persecute them by mockery and so to feed their own malevolent amusement. Nothing more resembles devils than their manner of carrying on. So no truer name can be given them than the Wreckers. Clearly they are themselves wrecked first of all and perverted by evil spirits, who are mocking them and seducing them in the very acts by which they love to mock and deceive others.


Wednesday, 8th July 2015

Just Fancy That!

2011: ‘Ministers insist that a generous package of student support – including an increased maintenance grant […] – will ease the burden of degree costs.’

– Telegraph, 12th August 2011

2015: ‘Maintenance grants for university students from low-income families will be scrapped and converted into loans in the Government’s next round of spending cuts.’

– Independent, 8th July 2015

Tuesday, 4th November 2014

In a Bloomsbury pub I overhear a large group of students comprising older undergraduates and the first-years whom they are initiating into university lore. As the evening wears on, the cries of ‘down it, fresher!’ come to be uttered with such ravenous feeling that I fear the older students are in fact encouraging one another, and that the objects to be guzzled are not pints of beer but the freshers themselves.

Tuesday, 3rd June 2014

The BBC News website this morning states that,

More than 20,000 students complained to their universities last year, a Freedom of Information request has shown. Responses from 120 universities across the UK revealed that total academic appeals and complaints were 10% higher in 2012-13 than in 2010-11.

We could have guessed that this would happen, but the shocking thing is that David Willetts seems to think that it’s welcome news. He says,

If there are more complaints because students are more aware of what they should expect of funding and are more demanding, then I think that’s a good thing.

Students should see their lecturers and tutors as senior colleagues and companions in study. They should spend their time enjoying university life, exploring a new place, finding out about themselves. They should have the freedom to become totally absorbed in the Second Anglo–Dutch War, Don Juan, the engineering of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Freephoning a consumer complaints number to whine that a lecture started five minutes late is many things, but it’s not an education.

Thursday, 24th April 2014

Further to my entry of the 22nd, another word for the Oxford Urban Dictionary:

Degree, n.

Pronunciation: /dɪˈɡriː/
Etymology: < late popular Latin degradus < de- prefix down + gradus step

1. An academical rank or distinction conferred by a university or college as a mark of proficiency in scholarship.
2. Contronymous to sense 1, a mortgage taken out on a certificate of economic viability.

And further to the complaints about the incomprehensible Jamaica Inn, today’s response – that Cornish is to receive protected status – seems not to have been thought through.

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