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Sunday, November 08, 2009


This morning's Wales on Sunday has a two page spread illustrated by an extraordinarily large photo of four girls under-dressed as if they were the big sisters of the pupils of St. Trinians, in which the paper exclusively reveals a litany of anti-social behaviour and cheating at Wales' biggest universities.

They say that in a week when organised student pub crawls are again in the media spotlight, the true extent of violence and criminality at Welsh universities can be revealed to be far more disturbing:

Our investigation found that, behind the respectable facade of the nation’s higher education industry, students are:

Routinely threatening staff;

Assaulting their peers;

Being hauled before the courts to face criminal charges.

Among the most worrying cases in the student disciplinary records unearthed by a Freedom of Information request were a student caught with a firearm and another threatening to kill his peers.

They are right when they say that the litany of eight alleged assaults, five harassment cases and several occasions where students have terrorised their peers or university employees over a three year period is very disturbing and cannot be tolerated. They are also right when they say that Universities must operate a zero-tolerance policy against plagiarism and other forms of cheating.

Katie Dalton, the President of NUS Wales, is quoting as saying that: “Violence and threats on campus cannot be tolerated, and the safety of students and staff is of the upmost importance. However, we must remember that the vast majority of students are not violent, never threaten their tutors or fellow students, and contribute massive amounts intellectually, culturally and financially to the university and local community. It is important that the acts of a minority do not overshadow the excellent work of the majority of students, who attend university to learn and to further themselves in life.”

She has a point. I do not have time to individually research the number of students at each of the eight universities cited but I can make a very conservative estimate that in any one year there will be more than 72,000 students enrolled at these institutions. Over a three year period that may amount to 120,000 or more individual students in all.

So in the interests of assessing the 'true extent' of this misbehaviour I would suggest that the 50 incidents of unacceptable anti-social behaviour uncovered by the paper involved 0.04% or less of the total student population, whilst the 1,500 or so cases of cheating amounts to less than 1.25% of enrolled students.

One case is of course one too many, but we really must be careful not to draw a picture of social anarchy at our educational institutions, as the Wales on Sunday has done, from the completely unacceptable behaviour of a very small number of students.
Bit like fraud in the welfare and IB, it stands at 0.5% but sadly that means we are all cheating the system so much so the BBC makes programs about us, we are evil.

The real problem without Labour the welfare reforms would be nothing, get the BBC behind you it then becomes something evil. same with students media news sells papers.
I used to teach in a uni and I think it's disgraceful that an organisation with a duty of care encourages the buying and drinking in absurd quantities of artificially cheap alcohol. Some staff (and students) at my institution protested against "drink the union bar dry" days, and I can personally confirm that in my experience drugs did a lot less harm to student achievement than alcohol - most of the guys who should have got firsts and ended up with thirds or fails had screwed their chances at the union bar. I even knew one who pretended to be diabetic because he found it too embarrassing, in a hard-drinking culture, to admit he was a teetotaller out of choice.
Typical tactics of the iliberal right - find an easy target and scapegoat it through the rabloid press.

Students are adults (the word seems to suggest juvenility these days because of the nonsense we have now of describing schoolchildren as 'students')and indeed customers. Some adults stray, and get into trouble with the law. Very few students, it seems do.

As to cheating, I wonder how much is down to cultural issues and the pressure on overseas students to achieve in order to get a return for their govt/family's investment?
remember Tony Blair our PM was arrested as a student for burglary of a fellow students flat. He climbed through the window i think.
THe student decided not to press charges and Blair turned out to be a warmonger of the highest order
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