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* Posts by Drew Whitworth

7 posts • joined 17 May 2007

Doctors tell government to stop the health records roll-out

Drew Whitworth

The caring face of the health profession

"Personally I can't be bothered with the 3 patients I have who have chosen to opt out, so I have chosen to opt-out of having them as my patients and had them struck from the list, good riddance to them!"

Nice to see that you have such concern for your patients. I am sure they will be very glad to know that you believe their health records to be your own private fief and have some kind of a legitimate right to not only tell people what to do with them, but that you care so little about their interests and concerns that you are willing to leave them in the lurch in this arbitrary way.

I have opted out because I have no confidence in the government's ability not to f*** up this project somehow. However, if the system shows itself to run well over the next few years I will then exercise my right to come back in. You may disagree with me and you may even think you have a moral right to refuse to treat people just because they disagree with you: but in fact you show yourself up to be an arrogant idiot. Frankly I hope you lose all your patients.

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UK universities being broken by border control measures

Drew Whitworth
Headmaster

The reality

Does anybody writing this bollocks actually work in a university?

Fact. Overseas students pay a lot of money to come and study in a system that they and their future employers believe - rightly - to be one of the highest quality and (BIG plus) least corrupt education systems in the world. Hence the fact that education is one of the last remaining truly successful export industries in Britain. The difference between the money that comes into the UK from abroad and the money that goes out to other countries' education systems is VAST. I cannot think of another sector in Britain that, in these relative terms, contributes more to the economy. If you can, let me know what it is, I'm genuinely interested.

Fact. In a time of economic downturn, the US and Australia, to name but two of the UK's major competitors in this sector, have changed laws to facilitate the entry of foreign students. Yes folks, they're making it easier to get these people in. That's the US. Easier. Not nigh on impossible.

Fact. There is no legal requirement for students to attend lectures. Nor should there be. If they don't come they don't get the degree that they have paid huge amounts of money for (far more than a British student will ever pay). Do people seriously think the vast majority of students don't care about that? When their families have made sacrifices to send them to this high-quality educational environment? Take your stereotypes back to the pages of whatever stupid rag you got them from, please.

Fact. The government - whichever party happened to be in power at the time - have, over many years, forced universities to look to the overseas market to raise enough finance to keep the high quality of their courses.

Fact. This ridiculous immigration legislation is just one part of the triple whammy, alongside general cuts in funding and the highly insidious ELQ (Equivalent Level Qualification) limitation - where a university cannot any longer receive any money for any UK or EU student doing a course that is equivalent to one they already have. You want to be one of those bankers or people from some other sector who are supposed to be recruited into teaching? Sorry mate, we have to charge you £11,000 for that PGCE because you got a Masters degree in biochemistry 20 years ago. You need to retrain in a different job to keep your skills up to date? Sorry, that'll be £11,000 for that BA in physiotherapy because the government won't give the university any money for your educaiton because 30 years ago you got a 3rd in Fine Art at Bangor. Note: most universities are trying to cover these costs at the moment - though not all (Manchester has stopped doing so for undergraduate degrees). How are they doing this? Through subsidising them by overseas students income. They won't keep doing this for ever.

Fact. Overseas students are keeping the cost of YOUR retraining and YOUR kids' education down. If they stop coming, fees will rise to make up the difference.

Fact. Without doing these things the quality of UK higher education will collapse and the future of this country, culturally, intellectually, and economically, will be more f*cked than it already is. AND THAT IS WHAT THIS GOVERNMENT ARE MAKING HAPPEN.

Drew Whitworth

(who actually works in a university with responsibility for recruitment onto my educational technology course, and is quite prepared to go on the record here, unlike the ridiculous 'Anonymous Cowards')

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Drew Whitworth
Headmaster

"Degrees and Attendance for Sale"

Name them. Or are you just reporting something a mate said? If you've proof of this, name them.

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UK.gov to spend £2bn on ISP tracking

Drew Whitworth

Let's help the Royal Mail

Anyone fancy starting a campaign to revitalise the lost art of letter writing? After all, the Royal Mail need a boost. As yet there are no plans to open our snail mail. However, I stress the "as yet": I wonder how long it would take this lot of fascists to come up with some legal route by which they gave themselves the right to do so. But perhaps that is the only thing that would wake up the comfortable middle-classes to the breadth of the surveillance society.

So, let's get writing those letters again. Hell, it only takes a day with first-class post - at least in theory...

Drew

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BBC cans Planet Relief special

Drew Whitworth

Bog all to do with climate change

This is bog all to do with the arguments for and against climate change. It's everything to do with irritating little Hitlers in jumped-up rags like the Daily Mail bleating about how the BBC should be "Impartial" but only when that channel gets even the vaguest bit radical.

"Impartiality" is neo-Conservatism by another name, it just means protecting the status quo. Hacks like Waterhouse would be happy enough to see the BBC presenting tedious rubbish about the Royal Family, or Churchill, or gubbins like that, but not address political issues, that's "partial", "biased", whatever.

If you don't want to watch a programme on climate change then don't watch it, and the viewing figures will be low and it'll go away - which, to be fair, the BBC have already suggested is one reason not to show the special. But for some chief guy to say "it is not the BBC's job to save the planet" - that sums it up. What he means is "it is not the BBC's job to go against the government". The "Iraq dossier" affair got the BBC very worried, and they are retreating into their shell. Then again we should never expect radicalism from such a body.

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Google pulls essay adverts

Drew Whitworth

Design assessments better

These sites exist and students use them because "universities aren't doing their job"? Rubbish. This attitude that you somehow buy the right to a degree when you pay your enrolment is ridiculous. Universities are like health clubs. You pay a fee, you get to use the resources and a personal trainer to help you, but you're the one who's got to do the work to get fit.

Having said that, there are simpler solutions to the problem of plagiarism. Assessments can be created which are impossible - or at least very difficult - to plagiarise. I usually ask to see work-in-progress - a draft, plan or proposal for the final essay or project - and make this an assessed part of the whole work, producing some 10% or 20% of the final mark. I often write in a viva, or presentation, as well.

Of course, I can never be _completely_ sure that what I am reading is the student's own work in any given case but over the course of an academic year, after I have seen these people's work on several occasions, one gets the hang of their style. I am lucky though - I see a small group of students on an intensive basis over a whole year or more. The problem also lies when you get essays from students you barely know except as a distant face in a lecture theatre or even just a student ID number. Then they might as well have had their work written by some anonymous Net-boffin for all that the work is the product of sustained intellectual interaction between teacher and student. So maybe the complaint about "diploma mills" is valid - but as Mr. Murray says, for that we need society to support traditional liberal education. I can't see it happening though. Too "Inefficient" for the Labour Gov^W^W modern world.

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MPs must act on runaway ID project

Drew Whitworth

Tit for tat

I've decided to adopt a "tit for tat" attitude in the future to ID. When someone asks to see mine: I'll insist on seeing theirs first, and having their identity confirmed to me.

Firstly this is to address the issue of "information feudalism" that someone mentioned in a comment the other day: that the demands made on us are going to be one-way.

Secondly, well, it might be a laugh.

Drew

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