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Would it have been useful for OU leaders to have seen this before appointing Horrocks?

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Sunday, 16 Dec 2018, 01:16

There now seems to be widespread agreement that the appointment of Peter Horrocks as Vice Chancellor was a very big mistake and thankfully the Open University now seems to be led by a VC who is committed to the students and staff. 

It is interesting reading the latest edition of the London Review of Books to see how many of the characteristics of the management of the BBC and especially the World Service presaged the management style he carried on to the OU

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n24/owen-bennett-jones/cant-afford-to-tell-the-truth?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=4024&utm_content=ukrw_subs

I think most of the staff and students now feel much more confident about the university than we did one year ago.

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English in Dutch universities

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I came across this article in the THES on the use of English in Dutch universities.

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/dutch-universities-defend-growth-english-courses

I was very struck by figure of 60 per cent of courses being taught in English.

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Yet more on English as a medium of instruction course

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The final part of the course involved some micro teaching and a discussion/reflection on the experience.

The students did well and I learned a great deal about their subjects from this, which suggests their communication and teaching skills were effective.  However, one of the students told me how worried she was that some of her students would judge her English skills unfavourably compared to the English teachers in her university.  It seems that perhaps she is too perfectionist and her teaching of the content in an effective way should be the priority (but perhaps it is easier for me to say this than it is for her to feel this).

Thinking about these teachers, they are under a great deal of pressure.  Like most other lecturers, they are expected to be research active and publish, teach their content effectively and do this in a second language.  They will need great qualities and strengths but I think and hope they have those qualities.

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Summer work

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 29 Aug 2016, 12:43

For the past couple of summers, I have been working at the University of Reading on courses for English for Academic Purposes lecturers from universities in China and I have taught one group of these teachers this year. 

However, there is a new course that is about to start its second week.  This is for teachers of other subjects at Chinese universities who are interested in teaching through English (English as a Medium of Instruction).  This is an interesting new angle on my work as the focus is on the methodology of teaching through language, which resonates with the ideas of writers like Halliday (2004[1980]).  So, there is a need to focus on meaning and intelligibility to an even greater extent than usual and there is perhaps less of a focus on accuracy,


Halliday, M.A.K. (2004 [1980]) ‘Three aspects of children’s language development: learning language, learning through language, learning about language’, in Halliday, M.A.K. (ed.) The Language of Early Childhood: Vol. 4 The Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday, London, Continuum.

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Student comment that I think is very positive

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 10 Nov 2016, 11:00

On of my students who has been very strong (his marks have been extremely high) wrote about one course I teach (E304) that it "has been a challenge to most of us". 

I think that this can be interpreted as a compliment to the course as it has pushed a student who is very strong rather than letting him coast through content that is not demanding enough.  Of course, if the course is chellenging to him, it is likely to be even more so for others.

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Tuition group policy

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 7 Mar 2016, 18:51

I went to a meeting about this in Milton Keynes on Friday.  I think there are many advantages to increasing the amount of collaboration between tutors and also in allowing students more opportunities for tuition. 

There seems to be an expectation amongst some of the OU management that this will lead to improved retention and progression.  However, as far as I can see, it is mainly the very strong students that make use of the extra opportunities for tuition.

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Another article critical of changes to university funding

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 12 Dec 2011, 17:34

Here is another article about changes to university funding.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n24/keith-thomas/universities-under-attack

It seems to me that the government have a flawed understanding of what universities are about and how collaboration rather than competition is the default and best mindset of academics.  There are occasions when competition is appropriate (as when applying for grants) but generosity has been the main attitude I have experienced when communicating with academics from other universities.

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A London Review of Books article on universities

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 09:40

Another LRB article on universities that questions some assumptions about Ivy League universities and the way that the government seems to be uncritical.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n10/howard-hotson/dont-look-to-the-ivy-league

The following is a key quote:

"Might markets have the beneficial side effect of driving up academic standards? Much depends on the measure you use; but the academic standard that markets are most likely to drive up is the one that matters most to high-fee-paying students: marks. Way back when, the average mark in the US was supposed to be a C. Nowadays, the more expensive the university, the higher the average mark, with the average in private universities now an A-minus. Why is grade inflation so closely correlated with fee inflation? The reason can easily be guessed. If you’ve attended one of America’s hundred costliest colleges or universities and paid upwards of $200,000 for a four-year degree, then it had better be a good one."

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