February 07, 2007

Some of the things we know about universities due to FOI requests

Below is a small list of things we do know about universities due to FOI requests. There are many more things that we don't know about...

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UK university ethics under fire

67 UK universities hold shares in arms companies, it has been revealed. Following an FOI request, 67 out of 183 colleges and universities confirmed they held investments in six of the UK’s leading arms companies, including BAE systems, GKN and Smiths Group. Cambridge and Oxford universities hold 3 million shares between them. The largest investor though is the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the lecturers’ pension body, which holds more than 24 million shares.
25.10.05 The Times

Soas sells off arms shares
The School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London, has announced it will be selling its investments in arms companies. The school is the fourth institution to do so after details of arms share holdings by 67 universities were published under the FOI Act. Oxford, Cambridge and Swansea universities have all started disinvestment campaigns.
9.11.05 The Guardian

170 attacks a year on hospital staff
There were more than 170 incidents of violence and aggression against staff at a Cambridge hospital last year, according to data released under the FOI Act. Staff have been punched, kicked, bitten and spat at in attacks occurring on average three times a day.
15.2.05 Cambridge Evening News

University staff ‘face threats’
More than a thousand incidents of violence or harassment against university staff have been recorded in the past five years. The figures, released by universities under the FOI Act, show there were 178 instances of physical violence and 832 of threatening or intimidating behaviour, with one student sent to prison for assault. However, the disclosures also reveal an uneven level of recording of threats and violence, with 37 institutions saying they had not recorded any incidents of aggression since 2000.
9.6.05 BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk

Hospital staff in £100,000 payout

Personal injury claims by staff cost a Cambridge hospital nearly £100,000 last year in damages and legal fees. Figures released under the FOI Act show that seven members of staff received damages, the largest payment being £9,990 to a staff member who acquired industrial dermatitis. In the same period £9,270 was paid to 73 patients in non-clinical compensation cases including loss of clothes, dentures and glasses.
6.6.05 Cambridge News

Minister reduced student targets
The government target for university entry was revised downward following concerns about a ‘pilethem high’ culture and accusations of ‘dumbing down’. According to documents released under the FOI Act, in 1999 Downing Street intended to set a target of 50% participation by young people in higher education by 2006/7. However, this was eventually amended to 50% by 2010 amid worries that ‘too hasty’ an expansion could also prompt elite universities to ‘break away from the existing system’.
17.2.05 The Guardian

Favouring students from disadvantaged backgrounds
Bristol University has a policy of favouring studens from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to documents released under the FOI Act. The papers recommend that admissions tutors make lower offers to disadvantaged students. Bristol has been running the policy since the mid-90s, the documents reveal.
4.2.05 Times Higher Education Supplement

University cheats on the rise
There were 6,672 incidents of plagiarism and collusion in the 2003/4 academic year figures from half of Britain’s universities have revealed. The figures, disclosed under the FOI Act, show that 707 students at Westminster University were found to have copied original work, the highest incidence of plagiarism of the 64 institutions surveyed. No incidents were reported at Oxford or Cambridge.
2.8.05 The Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk

Mental health alert for students
The number of university students seeking counselling has risen by more than 20% to 60,000 in five years. The figures were obtained from 18 universities under the FOI Act. Minutes from Bristol University, where the number of students seeking counselling has risen by 29%, state “The waiting list for the counselling service is of great concern. Some students have to wait four weeks to see a counsellor.” British universities spend £30m a year providing counselling for students with mental health problems.
20.9.05 Bristol Evening Post

Pesticide probe into death of farm worker hit by lab error
Three samples sent to the forensic science laboratories at the University of Glasgow have been accidentally disposed of since 2002. One sample belonged to Graham Stephen a young farm worker who died after applying a highly toxic pesticide to a potato crop. The official investigation into his death was abandoned following the error. Details of the mistake were unearthed using the FOI Act.
28.8.05 The Sunday Herald

University scam lets in illegal migrants
Illegal immigrants may be entering Britain by enrolling on university courses, obtaining student visas and then disappearing. Under the present arrangements overseas students do not have to pay their fees in advance, they only have only to show they have the means to pay. Figures for 37 universities, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that more than 17,000 non- European Union students accepted undergraduate or graduate places last year but never arrived at their colleges. However, not all of these are abusing their visas - many go to other institutions or never enter the country.
4.9.05 The Sunday Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk

MRSA rises despite new hospital routine
The number of patients contracting MRSA at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge increased after new cleaning procedures were introduced to combat the bug. Alcohol gel handwash was introduced in July 2004 and more rigorous cleaning was introduced that autumn. But MRSA bloodstream infections only fell by 3 cases, from 126 in 2003-4 to 123 in 2004-5 and the number of MRSA-positive patients - not all of whom had bloodstream infections – actually increased the month after the new procedures. In September, when cleaning was improved, there were 86 new MRSA-positive patients, which rose to 104 in October.
24.6.05 Cambridge Evening News

N&N staff act to stamp out blunders
Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital reported 64 medical mishaps in the two years from October 2003 to September 2005. The mistakes, revealed for the first time in response to a FOI request, include 45 drug mix-ups, patients being mistaken for someone else, a patient accidentally burned during surgery, an incorrect breast biopsy diagnosis and an undetected fracture. The Hospital’s chief executive said "What we have tried to encourage at the hospital is an environment of openness, where people don't think they are going to get hammered for admitting a mistake.”
15.11.05 East Anglian Daily Times


Anonymous said...

Maybe the counselling services that Universities offer for targets of workplace bullying could be extended to bullies to help them to deal with these personality problems...

...the trouble is that where a workplace condones bullying such people are not aware that they need help...

... instead it is the targets of the bullies who are told to get help....

...there needs to be more research into the kinds of communities that permit behaviour that is pathological...

,,, now who is good at carrying out research....

zr said...

How different is this from the usual manipulator?

- the one who sends an email copying the boss and reminding you of the need to do an urgent non-existent task to prevent you from carrying out work that might show the inferiority of his work

- or the one who tells everyone about an error that you yourself discovered to present you as a reckless researcher

- or the one who hides a software before leaving for his vacation and returns it (with kind words) on the day of his flight after being forced to do so by the management (and not by his boss)

- or the one who suggests that you cheat and afterwards emails everyone reminding them of the importance of sticking to whatever data one has.

- or the one who does not want the boss to know that he sought your help with a task and then contradicts you when you tell the manager about it.

- or the one who agrees with you on a task, but then contradicts you and militates the boss against you.

The emotional manipulator is weaker.