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Sunday, February 20, 2011

The coco pops generation?

Mark Cole has reprinted an extract from the extraordinary interview with the Labour Education Minister at his party's conference in Llandudno yesterday. The relevant part can be seen after 54 minutes here.

As Mark says you will see a visibly angry Education Minister lambasting BBC political journalist Aled ap Dafydd as he challenged the Minister on Labour's free school breakfasts policy when Wales ranks so low in a league table of reading assessments:

Aled ap Dafydd: "You're giving coco pops to kids for breakfast, for free, that's something that parents might want, they might welcome that, but more importantly I suppose to parents will be the assessments when it comes to reading for example...

Leighton Andrews: "I really object to your snooty, middle-class attack on our free breakfast scheme. That is a disgrace. A thousand schools in Wales are pursuing our free breakfast scheme and you talk about coco pops - you are a disgrace to the BBC. This is a policy that has been really popular across the whole of Wales...

Aled ap Dafydd: "I am not doubting it's popularity, I am doubting where does it compare to reading assessments where Wales are ranked 38th out of about 60 countries. Shouldn't the priority be based on educational attainment rather than giving free breakfasts to kids?".

Leighton has been very reluctant to come to the Chamber to be scrutinised on his policies of late. If this is his response to criticism then we can see why.
There's no hiding from the PISA and Estyn Report's ... and might I add the dreadful overall ranking situation of Welsh universities where, for example, Scotland has three universities in the top 100 world ranked universities and Wales has.... a big fat ZERO.

The University of Wales has next to zip issued patents in what is still the largest market for patented goods, and guess whose the Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Wales?!?

... and I have left plenty of posts on Facebook for Leighton Andrews to read (or ignore) about the need to re-focus on the 3Rs.
The University of Wales is a degree giving body, and as such doesn't have departments but works with other institutions. CW's (many) posts on patents might be more effective if he ceased attacking this one atypical welsh university!
Actually the status of the University of Wales has changed over the years. It has several departments and directors including a Director of Innovation and Enterprise. For example, the University of Wales is running the POWIS program; I am hopeful that this will lead to several patents and job creation.

The patent filing rate of those institutions that are no longer issuing University of Wales degrees is not terribly good with the notable exception of the former Medical School (Cardiff) that merged with Cardiff University. So Cardiff University in effect inherited if memory serves around 40 issued patents at the time of merger.

The ILS (Institute of Life Sciences) at Swansea has a very expensive supercomputer which is behind the issue of x number of patents, where x (with respect tot he largest market for patented goods) is a big fat zero (as of a few months ago, I will look at the stats again).

Whereas institutions like MIT have patented inventions discovered during computer simulations (and have, from memory, over three thousand issued patents). I've just ran the Boolean string on just the USPTO database: AN/((Massachusetts AND Institute) AND Technology): 3534 patents. Where “AN” stands for assignee; so MIT has well over 3,000 patents assigned to it. MIT has around the same number of students as Swansea. Think about that, MIT which has fewer students than Cardiff and yet has orders of magnitude more issued patents and has a goldmine or revenues from licenses.

If I am attacking universities in Wales it is merely to buck up their patent output and to point to the glaring lack of meaningful delivery in terms of issued patents by the Welsh Assembly Government (Plaid and Welsh Labour) – there’s lots of rhetoric and positive yapping/talk about Welsh innovation, but very little of it is patented and if it’s not patented then any Tom, Richard, Harry, foreign competitor can copy and use it.
PS ... MIT has far more issued patents than all of the Universities in Wales combined. And MIT has but a fraction of the number of post-grad students of all the Universities in Wales combined. Is WAG listening?
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