A report ranked the UK as 10th best at providing higher education in a survey of 48 countries this week. The study, carried out by the global network of research universities Universitas 21, placed the UK in second place for research and 27th for spending on higher education. Overall, the United States came first in the report, followed by Sweden in second place and Canada in third place. On its website, Universitas 21 has stated that the report ‘aims to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, provide a high-quality experience for students and help institutions compete for overseas applicants.’ Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of Universities UK, commented that, ‘Based on measures of output and efficiency, the UK remains the second strongest university system in the world after the US,’ adding that, ‘We should remain acutely aware that other countries are investing more than the UK and that our reputation as a world-class provider of higher education is not a foregone conclusion.’
As many as 400,000 public sector workers, including university lecturers, carried out demonstrations on Thursday in protest against government austerity measures. The day of protest included protest activities from prison officers, who have been threatened with legal action. Police officers and border control staff were also amongst those holding demonstrations. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), commented that, ‘It is simply not fair for ordinary families to be to be bearing the brunt of the government's cuts while those at the top get tax cuts’, while the branch chairman of the UCU at the University of Sunderland Steve Storey said, ‘A lot of lecturers, like myself, are going on strike and sacrificing a day of pay to protect the pensions of people in the future.’
Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has been offered a fellowship by the University of Washington in the United States, after expressing an interest in studying in the country. It has emerged that New York University has also made an offer to Chen, aged 40. The civil rights activist spent six days at the US embassy in China after escaping house arrest. He is currently being treated for a broken foot in hospital. Chen was imprisoned for his political activities between 2006 and 2010 after attempts to expose forced abortion and sterilisation in China under the government’s one-child policy. Since his release from prison, Chen had been under house arrest until his escape in late April.
Paramedics and the police had to intervene on Sunday after over 2000 Cambridge University students attended a party at a public park. The event, which signals the start of the summer term, attracted complaints from some members of the public amidst reports of anti-social behaviour. A spokesperson for the University of Cambridge described the events as ‘just students having fun and getting drunk’, adding, ‘The University does not condone any behaviour which causes public offences. It is up to the colleges to look into whether or not it is appropriate to discipline the students. If the university is brought into disrepute we will investigate that.’ A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said, ‘We are paid to protect lives and we will do so regardless of whether something has happened through their own stupidity or misguidedness.’