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Scrutiny

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I try to avoid politics on this blog and in some ways, what I write in this posting is not party political.  It seems very strange that when the government is making such consequential decisions, it is so desperate to avoid scrutiny from MPs or the public.

Scrutiny from "critical friends" and perhaps even critiques from people who are not so friendly can help develop better ideas and avoid mistakes.  I have, for example, written materials and been given feedback on these.  This feedback has often pushed me to develop better work as well as simply pointing out mistakes, mistypings etc.  Similarly group discussions can ideally lead to exploratory talk where ideas and solutions are produced that are better than any one person can produce.

MPs are not being given time to read the Bill in detail and this is simply bad practice for effective decision making.    This coincides with a period when many students are writing their first assignments of the academic year (if they are on J presentations).  I and many other tutors are advising them to make sure that they read carefully and consider what they are reading from different angles and in a critical way.


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Language learning and Brexit

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 1 Mar 2019, 15:03

There have been many depressing reports of a decrease in the number of people studying languages.  This is reflected in this article

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/01/britain-learning-languages-brexit--education

An interesting point is that "more than half (58%) of UK adults wish they hadn’t let the language skills they learned at school slip, 77% agree that language skills increase employability and just over half (53%) regret not having made the most of studying languages when they had the chance."

It is to be hoped that Brexit does not happen  but it seems that the lack of encouragement to learn languages and to understand other cultures may have been a factor in causing the referendum result.

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"Brexit" - a taboo word in OU management discussions?

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 22 Nov 2017, 17:10

There is a great deal of activity in the management of the Open University at the moment and there is a very complex array of "workstreams" working on "transforming" and "redesigning" the way the university works and as a tutor, I hear about them through messages and meetings such as the AL Assembly last weekend.  However, the issue of Brexit and its effects on the university does not seem to be mentioned often enough.

I would think Brexit will have a very significant effect on the Open University (and probably all other British universities as well).  A first effect will be on the many EU staff in the university and their morale and retention in a hostile environment.  A second will be on the recruitment of students.  A colleague commented on how she has fewer students than before from Eastern and Central Europe.  The atmosphere around Brexit and hostility towards EU citizens might have led to a less positive attitude towards the UK in general and UK universities in particular.  A third effect is the reduction in EU research funding.

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Brexit effect on the role of English

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An interesting view of the implications of Brexit on the English language:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/05/brexit-english-is-losing-its-importance-in-europe-says-juncker

I suspect he is overstating the effect it will have but clearly Brexit will have a negative effect on Britain's role in the world.

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Universities and Brexit

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The Open University management have been relatively quiet about the effects of Brexit on the university although a statement was released on March 30th - https://msds.open.ac.uk/tutorhome/news-messages-unified.aspx#ns1

It seems that the process is beginning to do immense damage to the British university sector (and, as far as I can tell, the whole economy).  The following story of job losses at universities in South Wales seems to reflect broader trends:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education/university-announces-139-job-losses-12820580

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Student perspectives on Brexit

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I mentioned before that students on a Business Communication course are referring to Brexit in their own work.  These students are working in a variety of businesses.  It is striking that none of them see Brexit as being positive but are also assuming a "softer" Brexit than the government seems to be promising.  It makes me wonder whether businesses are being complacent about the likelihood of a "hard" Brexit or whether the government is presenting the worst possible case scenario seem likely so that voters will be "impressed" when it does not happen.

Assignments are certainly more interesting this year, which is perhaps the only positive of the referendum result.

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The topic of Brexit in assignments

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One of the courses I teach on is LB160 Professional communication for Business Studies and for their final assignment, students need to write about issues that are important to their businesses.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brexit is a topic that has been mentioned as a threat to the businesses they work in.  As mentioned in an earlier posting, it looks like Brexit will have profound effects on the Open University and it also looks like it will on many other businesses in the UK.

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