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kuurus

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About kuurus

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  1. My University has recently made about 1 in 10 of lecturers redundant. However, these are the people who actually do the work of the university, they teach the students and do the research. In short they earn the money and are the reason for the existence of the university. However, they are outnumbered (4/6) by administrators and support staff who, economically speaking are parasitic, earn no money. Any guesses how many of those got the boot?
  2. University lecturers are paid on average less than primary/high school teachers. Their pay scale goes up to 41k, verses 36k for teachers, but since they spend an average of 6 extra years in further education (after degree, PhD plus postdoc training) their wages always lag. Unlike teachers Lecturers only have pretty standard 6 weeks holiday per year, their main duty (research) continues well beyond teaching time.
  3. Even in Plymouth it is cheaper to rent than to buy, I rent a £200k house for £750 a month, a lot less then the interest on mortgage.
  4. Thanks for the advice, it is good to know that it is not just me in disbelief at their front. I'll tell them to stick their tree where the sun don't shine (so no more growth).
  5. Had some trouble with the letting agency today, there is a tree in our front garden that is pushing down a garden wall. The agency is insisting that I am to blame as I have been renting for three years and have failed to keep the tree in the same state as when I moved in (as it is growing). This is a large 20 foot high tree we are talking about, that will require expensive professional work to keep down. The only two clauses in the lease that apply to the garden are as follows: 1. Keep the garden and exterior surrounds in a clean and tidy order and to cut the grass when required. 2. Not to alter the general character to the garden or to lop down, remove or otherwise injure any trees, shrubs, or plants growing on the Premises and will water the garden when necessary during dry periods. Now we do keep the garden tidy and clean, but I assumed that this did not imply regular professional tree surgery on a naturally growing tree. Especially in light of the second clause, which explicitly forbids me from removing any foliage (to lop). The agency is insisting that another general clause implies that I am liable for keeping the tree in a 'static' state, as follows: 3. Use the Property in a tenant-like manner and not through his own act or neglect or that of any lawful visitor to damage or injure the Property or any items on the inventory and not to remove them from the Property. Over three years we have had quarterly inspections, and there has never been any mention of the lack of tree surgery and my duty to keep back the forces of mother nature. Any advice on how to tackle the agency, am I being unreasonable in refusing to pay for the tree surgery?
  6. Plymouth does have its attractions, but definitly none to be had in the city centre. Take into account the 18k average salary and prices here are massively overvalued, but then they have been dropping, 12% down on the year, but most of that is due to the 'executive' flats that have been going up over the past years. I could count the number of 'executives' on Plymouth on my fingers. In my opinion prices here need to halve here before they get affordable once more. Currently renting a large 3 bedroom house in a 'nice' (for Plymouth) area for £740, valued (landlord re mortgaged) at £225k last year, my rent hasn't increased for 2 years either.
  7. Not sure if you read the news, but France is currently locked in a series of bitter strikes because the president is trying to reduce favourable pension and working conditions for public employees.
  8. I would'nt be too worried, I too have been renting for 2 years, paying 740 pounds a month for a large 3 bedroom house for the duration of our tenancy. When it came up to the two year mark the agency sent round a valuer who stated she was confident she could get 800. I just stated that I would go to 750, no higher, and that they should factor a possible void plus loosing excellent long term tenants (never a late payment, stable high paying jobs, plus keep the house in good shape) into their risk analysis (the landlord is on an assured rent contract). A week later we got a new contract for... 740 pounds. It seems a good tenant in the hand is worth more than two unknowns even with a a price increase.
  9. Averages are never good measures of wealth as the distribution of wealth is not normal around the average. This is because such a great proportion of capital is possessed by such a small percentage of the population, which skews the figures upwards. This makes average income etc, much higher than the median, which is the better measure.
  10. I believe it is important to differentiate between the two aspects of university business. The first is teaching, the second is research. On one hand British universities are second only to the USA in their scientific output, however this does not necessarily mean that they are as good at teaching. Indeed, from my experience there is an inverse relationship between the two. I have worked in universities in the US, France, and Britain. The university in the US had the best research record, but the teaching was expensive ($100,000 per year full tuition fees) and quality poor (for that price students did what they wanted). In France research from universities is patchy, and generally poor (although there are some clear exceptions) but the education is better. Then again in France they have a research arm that operates seperately from the universities, called the CNRS. At the moment I am a 'lecturer' in a UK university, but that title is a misnomer, I spend 30 hours a year teaching, the rest of the time is dedicated to research. This is the pattern in highly rated research departments, but is reversed in those with poor ratings.
  11. This is a bit of a polarised picture of higher education in France, and is only partially true. Generally speaking only lectures in the 1st year of University education in France are oversubscribed because there are no real entry requirements to start a University course. In this case there are lots of 'students' just passing the time to avoid having to get a job. Very few of these students will progress to the 2nd year, they will just continue repeating the 1st year until they give up. For example, I was a lecturer in Psychology in France, I had classes of over 200 in the 1st year (huge crowding, standing room only), exam failure rates were around 90% for the first year. It only gets civilised in the 2nd year where class sizes drop massively, down to around 30-40 students. Also contact time for students in University is much higher in France than the UK, students in France have lectures scheduled between 8am to 8pm, and are often in class for between 30-40 hours a week. This compares to around 15-20 hours in the UK. I would say that, based upon my experience as a lecturer in the UK and France, that the education received in France is of a higher standard to the UK. In France you are expected to succeed on your own merits, to be independent and succeed against the prevailing system (which does'nt care if you pass or fail). In the UK most of the efforts are involved in spoon feeding and hand holding to ensure that no-one fails, as this looks bad on the records of the University. Paradoxically I would say that meritocracy in the communistic French system is far far higher than in the market led UK system. As an interesting aside, the cream of the 'A-level' students in France do not go to University, they go to engineers schools for the first 4 years. After they have been educated as engineers, and have proved their worth some go back into university to pursue further study in other fields. For example, my wife is a lecturer in Psychology, but is a fully trained and accredited civil engineer. This ensures that France always has a good supply of excellent engineers, it is a discipline that is perceived as being at the top of the heap. This may explain why France has Ariane, the TGV, an oversupply of cheap nuclear energy, and a positive balance of trade.
  12. It may have been a tad more impressive without the spelling mistakes, for example, 'flawed', not 'floored'. May be nitpicking but if you are trying to appear knowledgeable and are giving an MP a ticking off then a failure in the spelling department can deflate your gravitas somewhat.
  13. 1) Private 2) 750 3) 3 4) Plymouth 5) 210k
  14. I largely agree with your points, the vast majority of 'cutting edge' research is not taught to undergraduates as they would be incapable of understanding it. However, changes in understanding, approaches or applications resulting from this research does tend to 'trickle down' and can affect basic topics, sometimes quite quickly (depending on the subject). As you say, the academics teach students to be allowed the freedom to conduct research. Both have a positive impact on society, although the degree of that impact is open to some question. The proportions of teaching to research will reflect the qualities of a particular university or department, some have as little as 26 contact hours per year, others 26 per week. The trouble is that if you reduce pay, or increase teaching then the more talented people (at the former end of the spectrum) will leave the country to find better conditions. Academics have the dubious advantage that they are forced to be highly mobile, so changing countries is no big thing. Make conditions intolerable and the best will leave, and you will be left with the universities that are little better than schools staffed with those that remain. I have a 20% reduction in salary for taking part in the action, this is now pretty standard across most universities. How long could most people survive with such a reduction in means (as we know, lifestyle always rises to reach and exceed your means). Luckily I don't have a mortgage to service!
  15. The vast majority of research is published in journals, these do not pay royalties to the academics, some actually charge for publication rights. Books do pay royalties, but they seldom amount to more than peanuts because of the low percentage return and the relatively low volumes (selling to students). The only way to make it big is to write a popular-science book and somehow get it reviewed in the Times or something. You don't need to be an academic to do this, just need the ability to pre-chew research to such a level that it becomes understandeable to the masses, although some academic credibility can help, e.g. Steven Hawkings, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker etc. However, pseudo-science sells much better than science, so you'd be better off investing in a funny hat and other affectations to publicise your book on 'crystalology and healing'.
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