‘Look at how white the academy is’: why BAME students aren’t doing PhDs | Education | The Guardian


When Usman Kayani chose to do a PhD in theoretical physics at King’s College London, he felt sure an academic career lay ahead of him. Now two months after completing his doctorate, having suffered from anxiety and depression, he is considering other options.

At first Kayani was the only student who was either black, Asian or from an ethnic minority (BAME) in his research group. Although the group later became a bit more diverse he remembers how that feeling of being different, coupled with a lack of BAME academics and professors he could look up to as role models, contributed to his feelings of anxiety.

“It didn’t help my imposter syndrome. I do feel the lack of representation can put people off a career in academia. It’s a vicious cycle,” he says. “My dream was always to stay in academia. Now I don’t know what I want to do and I feel a bit lost.”

As a BAME student, Kayani was defying the odds by doing doctoral research at all. According to an analysis by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2016, BAME students are more likely than white students to decide to take a master’s course but less likely to do a PhD. The research found that 2.4% of white students had started a PhD within five years of graduation, compared to 1.3% of their BAME peers.

Last month the UK Council for Graduate Education launched an in depth review looking to establish why more BAME graduates aren’t progressing onto PhDs. The review, which will report next year, will conduct a detailed analysis of student data to understand trends for researching, qualification rates and funding for different ethnicities, as well as to highlight existing schemes which are encouraging participation rates for BAME students.

The fact that more young black students aren’t choosing to do doctorates doesn’t surprise Lynette Goddard, a black academic at Royal Holloway, University of London. She says that in 21 years as an academic she has only supervised three black PhD students. “That tells you something,” she says. When she announced her promotion on her Facebook page, someone commented: “I was never taught by a black lecturer at university so it didn’t occur to me I could do that.”

 

Source: ‘Look at how white the academy is’: why BAME students aren’t doing PhDs | Education | The Guardian

How researchers can help the world face up to its ‘wicked’ problems | Higher Education Network | The Guardian


Sometimes, the sheer weight of the social, economic and environmental “wicked problems” in our world can leave us feeling frozen, unable to take any kind of action. But these are exactly the kinds of problems that researchers everywhere can help with – especially if we use methods that include and draw attention to the communities most affected by them.

First, let’s define our terms: the concept of a wicked problem dates to the 1970s, when two researchers used it to describe problems with no obvious or clear solution. Today, they’re also thought of as problems for which time to find a solution is running out.

A good example of a “wicked problem” is climate change, but there are

numerous others: lack of access to healthcare and clean water, to agricultural
land, sovereignty and self-determination, and the prevalence of poverty and
violence.

In the case of climate change, the bulk of evidence supports the findings of the US Climate Science Special Report, which states that it is “extremely likely” that human activities have caused warming since the mid-20th century. The report reviewed thousands of scientific studies from around the world that documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapour.

 

Source: How researchers can help the world face up to its ‘wicked’ problems | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

English devolution: local solutions for a healthy nation


Original post from Local Government Association

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The LGA is calling for more devolution to local areas, which can bring economic, political and social benefits to communities across the country. This publication was commissioned by the LGA to capture the thoughts of couenglish-devolution-cover-106-x-49 (1)ncillors, directors of public health, providers, commissioners, academics and other key opinion formers on the challenges and opportunities devolution could bring in terms of improving the public’s health.

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– See more at: http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/publications/-/journal_content/56/10180/7327847/PUBLICATION?utm_source=The+King%27s+Fund+newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=5713914_HWBB+2015-06-22&dm_i=21A8,3EGVU,JBZ5CO,C63R5,1#sthash.cNLOduNx.dpuf   ………….’

 

Report finds evidence to back ‘real world’ alternative to ‘toxic’ WCA


Original post from Disabled Go News

‘…….

disabled_underpaid

A new report has called for the “toxic” work capability assessment (WCA) to be scrapped and replaced with something that paints a more realistic picture of the barriers disabled people face in society.

The Rethinking the Work Capability Assessment report, by academics at the Universities of Kent and Durham, argues that the next government should abandon continuing efforts to make “minor tweaks” to the WCA and instead replace it with some kind of “real world assessment”.

A real world assessment would look at factors such as a person’s age, skills and work experience, and the availability of jobs locally, to build up a picture of which jobs they could realistically carry out.

The report, published by Demos and authored by Ben Baumberg, Jon Warren, Kayleigh Garthwaite and Clare Bambra, looked at Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, which have all introduced variations of real world assessments.

They say in the report that the WCA – which tests eligibility for the out-of-work disability benefit, employment and support allowance (ESA) – is “widely seen to be failing” and that it “simply does not assess claimants’ capability for work” because it “assigns points to functional impairments, but never considers whether there are any actual jobs that a claimant could do”.

They add: “Nor does it directly consider whether a person can undertake work-related activity, or the employment support that a person might need. It is a standardised test, but one that consistently measures the wrong thing.”

They conclude that a “real world” assessment is possible, although it is “almost impossible” to assess accurately the success of incapacity tests used in other countries.

Ellen Clifford, a member of the steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “Evidence to show that an assessment that takes into consideration social factors and employability as opposed to functionality is much needed.

“This report supports the case that it is eminently possible to scrap the WCA and replace it with something more appropriate and fit for purpose, not to mention fairer for disabled people.”

But she warned that “forces that seek to redefine disability in the interest of profit” – through the “pernicious” biopsychosocial model, the bedrock of the WCA – were now trying to “export” functionality-based assessments to other countries mentioned in the report, like New Zealand and Canada.

She said the report was an “admirable attempt to halt the trend” of countries adopting functionality-based assessments, but that “given the power of the forces we are up against we also need to continue fighting it every way we can”.

Stef Benstead, lead researcher on the Beyond the Barriers report – which examined the failings of the ESA system and the Work Programme for disabled people, on behalf of the Spartacus campaign network, said: “I’m glad that this work has been carried out by such a good team of researchers.

“It’s clearly useful to have information on other approaches to incapacity assessment and this report shows that not only are there alternatives to the WCA approach, but that these alternatives are likely to be better.

“What we need now is more detailed analysis of a few countries, such as the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, from whom the UK can learn by good example.

“I hope that whatever government we have in May will take this forward as a matter of great importance and urgency.”

Kate Green, shadow minister for disabled people, said it was her party’s policy to reform but not scrap the WCA, which was introduced by the last Labour government in 2008.

But she said the report was “interesting”, and “echoes Labour’s own approach to reform of the WCA”.

She said: “Labour’s plan to ensure that everyone who undergoes a work capability assessment will receive a statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their capacity for work, and the offer of support in a dedicated employment programme for disabled people to replace the failing Work Programme, will mean the system is better designed to identify incapacity in relation to employment and address wider support needs, including education and skills.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

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Immigration, can our towns cope?


Coping with immigration

Come 2014 the current immigration restrictions applying to the people from Bulgaria and Romania who wish to emigrate to other EU countries, will be removed. It is assumed many of these people will be requiring work in farming and agriculture and may decide to come to the UK, due to our extensive range of benefits. This ranges from free health and education to benefit subsidies for housing and every day living. With their assumed background of farming and agriculture, they will most likely move to areas were this type of work is to be found, which will be mainly small towns and villages. Due to the small populations of these areas, a sudden influx of non-UK people would have serious effects on the services of these areas.

This will be in addition to the numbers of people from similar EU countries, where large numbers have already come to the UK. One such area is Boston, which has already felt the strain the number of persons coming to the UK through EU immigration have placed on the services in Boston. But certain academicspoliticians and some business leaders think otherwise and feel the various services can still cope.

All these people who say large scale immigration is good for the UK and that our services are coping, should have the immigrants housed nearby to them. Also, if they have spare capacity in their own accommodation, they should be told to house some immigrants in their spare rooms. You would be surprised, how their attitudes would change. This is not racial, just a matter of economics. If services are not coping now, a further influx is bound to increase the degree of coping, making the situation worse for all concerned.

Due to the current financial situation in the UK, virtually all areas,which are financed by public monies are being told to find savings, which in many cases is leading to front line services being reduced or in some cases withdrawn. To place a further burden on these services in 2014, will be creating an impossible situation to manage for the benefit of the whole community.

Why do people of supposed intellect, feel they are more qualified to discuss matters than anyone else. They have obtained qualifications in their field of study and therefore feel they are more qualified than other people.

But people confuse obtaining qualifications with the ability to understand life and have intelligent thought. Qualifications are only a tool to obtain reasonable employment, they do not provide for the skills of life and applying intelligence to everyday living.

To some obtaining qualifications, only increases their degree of arrogance to their fellow beings. Whether this is intentional or not, only they themselves can comment.