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One Week Into Semester, UNC Chapel Hill Switches to Fully Online (Updated)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 7:01am in


News, Students

One week into the semester, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill administration reversed its decision to open its campus for teaching and housing, and moved all instruction online, owing to its inability to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus among the student population.

The university says that 954 students had been tested as of this morning, with 177 students testing positive for COVID-19. Nearly 350 other students had been quarantined because of possible exposure to it. The school has about 20,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduate students.

[Still of recent video of UNC Chapel Hill students socializing without masks or distancing. From the News & Observer.]

The Washington Post reports: “The remote-teaching order for undergraduate classes will take effect Wednesday, and the university will take steps to allow students to leave campus housing without financial penalty if they wish.”

More details here and here.

UNC Chapel Hill will likely not be the only university to switch to remote instruction and send students home over the coming month.

UPDATE: A colleague of mine at the University of South Carolina notes that when UNC Chapel Hill’s fall 2020 term began last week, the percentage of tested students with positive results for the coronavirus was less than 3%. The corresponding rate at the University of South Carolina, where classes begin later this week, is 3.9%.

UPDATE (8/18/20): The University of Notre Dame announces: “in-person classes for the University’s nearly 12,000 students are suspended, effective Wednesday, replaced by remote instruction only for the next two weeks because positive rates for the coronavirus continue to climb.” (via Curtis Franks)

UPDATE (8/31/20): Notre Dame will resume in-person teaching (via Curtis Franks).

The post One Week Into Semester, UNC Chapel Hill Switches to Fully Online (Updated) appeared first on Daily Nous.

New: Phi (Φ) Magazine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/08/2020 - 10:05pm in

Phi Magazine, also known as Φ Magazine, is a quarterly, independent, non-profit periodical made by philosophy students.

Founded at King’s College London not quite two years ago, Φ Magazine has published 7 issues. Its contents include philosophical prose as well as poetry, art, and more. It’s a hard copy magazine but also makes some contents available online (and they have an online shop, too).

An upcoming issue will be paired with a “virtual exhibition” and submissions for it are now open. Editor Chiara Zucchelli writes:

Submissions are officially open for Φ Magazine’s Blue Issue, the first issue of the 2020/21 academic year! We invite students to explore the theme at will to see where it takes them: colours, emotions, seas, eyes, skies, and more… We take all kinds of submissions: prose, photography, poetry, painting, opinion pieces, film or music—you make it we want to publish it! Share your work with us! Submit to or email before 24/10/2020 

Check out Φ Magazine here.

The post New: Phi (Φ) Magazine appeared first on Daily Nous.

Of Course Voter ID Is Racist: It Was Designed to Be

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 6:34pm in

Another article Mike put up a few days ago, which reveals very clearly the Tory contempt for people of colour, is a piece about the massively disproportionate effect the Tories’ demand for Voter identification at polling stations has had on Black people. The Tories declared a year or so ago that they were seriously concerned about voter fraud, and so rolled out schemes demanding that voters should have proof of their identities when casting their votes. There was absolutely no need for it. This kind of voter fraud is absolutely negligible. I think Mike put up the stats for it in another of his articles, and hardly anyone has been caught doing it. I think there have literally only been one or two cases. But nevertheless, the Tories decided that it was a serious problem and a threat to democracy. Critics of the scheme also warned that their plans would actually be anti-democratic, as certain groups are far less likely to possess the necessary documentation to confirm their identities. Blacks would be particularly affected, and would be turned away and prevented from exercising their legal, democratic civil rights.

This was, of course, denied by the Tories. But it’s happened. Despite Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith telling us all in June  that ““the evidence shows there is no impact on any particular demographic group … the evidence of our pilots shows that there is no impact on any particular demographic group from this policy”, the Electoral Commission has found evidence to the contrary. Findings from the 2018 and 2019 findings in Watford and Derby, two of the pilot areas, found that there was a strong correlation between Asians from each of the city’s wards not receiving a ballot paper. The Commission also reported that polling staff were not asked to collect demographic data about the people, who didn’t come back. This was due to the practical challenges of the data collection exercise. There wasn’t enough evidence yet to come to a conclusion about the scheme in any direction, and advised against doing so. But Mike accordingly reached the following :

If the Tories had wanted to know who would be deprived of the vote, and how badly it affected particular groups, they would have carried out the research. They didn’t.

They then went on to tell falsehoods that the research had been carried out when it hadn’t and that it showed no impact on any demographic group.

You don’t lie about something like this unless you are deliberately trying to harm people from ethnic minorities.

We can only conclude that the Tory voter ID plan is intended to stop black people and those from other ethnic minorities from voting:

And includes this tweet from Labour MP Cat Smith

The Government claim plans to require ID to vote doesn’t discriminate, but there’s no data to back this up.

Voter ID requirements come straight from the US-style voter suppression play book, and must be opposed by all who value inclusive democracy.

Smith’s absolutely right. The scheme was taken over from the Republicans in America, who have used to it to suppress the votes of certain groups – those that are most likely to vote Democrat. These are the poor, students and Blacks. There have been a number of videos about this produced by The Young Turks and other left-wing or liberal internet news sites. One particularly repulsive Republican politico actually let the cat out of the bag and admitted that it really was all about preventing Blacks from voting.

Which is just more evidence of how institutionally racist the Tories are, despite ostentatiously giving cabinet seats to BAME politicians like Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak. They’re really don’t want a less racist, more inclusive or simply more democratic society.

They are actively trying to increase discrimination all while keeping it carefully hidden through specious verbiage about protecting democracy. And that’s a threat to everyone’s right to vote.


Fight begins against Liberals’ new cuts and fee increases

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 11:26am in

The Morrison Government is hoping the Senate will agree to its university fee increases when parliament resumes from 24 August.

In a sickening act of hypocrisy, Scott Morrison, who got his degree for free, is doubling the fees for students in the humanities. This is at a time when the Liberals have announced $270 billion in military spending. This sum of money could fund free universities for decades.

The government’s aim is to cut per student funding to universities and force students to make up the difference through higher fees. It expects to save $770 million in base funding by increasing students’ HECS debts. However, these government cuts will not be fully covered by the fee increases, and universities will be left with a $280 million a year overall funding shortfall. Government spending on higher education is already way below that of other OECD rich nations, at only 0.8 per cent of GDP. These cuts will decrease funding levels even more.

The funding shortfalls are going to push universities to increase their austerity measures by further cutting courses, cutting staff jobs, and decreasing the quality of education and working conditions. This is a blatant attack on university education that follows the government’s failure to extend JobKeeper payments to university staff.

The plan would increase student fees for humanities, law and economics while reducing them for courses such as engineering, nursing and teaching.

Students now have an average HECS debt of $20,300 but with Morrison’s changes this is set to jump. A three year course in law, economics or the humanities will cost $43,500 under the changes, and popular five year double degrees will leave students with a debt of $72,500.

Students should not be finishing their studies with so much debt. And in 2019 the government also dropped the minimum income at which HECS debt has to be paid off to $45,000.

Dan Tehan, the Minister of Education, said in his announcement, “What this is about is incentivising people to look at teaching, to look at nursing, to look at allied health, to look at engineering, to look at IT”, implying that the government wants to drive students away from arts courses.

This is an attempt to force universities to create a “job ready” labour force that fits the needs of Australian capitalism.

Universities are being run more and more as businesses themselves, not as educational intuitions. The management teams of universities are perfectly willing to implement austerity. Currently the Vice Chancellor of Sydney Uni sits on a salary of $1.5 million, yet is still making cuts to courses and staff.


Students and staff have been fighting these measures for months. Students from the History faculty organised an action on campus in early July calling out the proposed cuts to seven subjects. Opposition from staff and students to cutting the ‘Fascism and Anti-Fascism’ course was successful, with History lecturer David Brophy telling the rally, “Thanks to the campaign… we have won back a subject that was on the chopping block. That’s one junior academic whose job has been saved for another semester”.

Organising within the faculty highlighted the importance of opposing the cuts to courses as action can win.

Lydia Fagaan, a history student, spoke on her personal experience of another subject that is facing the axe called “The history of protest in Australia”. She also noted the irony of considering cutting a course on the American slave trade given the current explosion around racism in the US through the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Liberals’ changes continue an attack on universities that has been occurring for 30 years, dismantling the system of free university education introduced under Gough Whitlam. Both Labor and Liberal governments have attacked university funding.

It was Labor that ended free education, introducing fees for domestic students and creating the HECS loan scheme to force students to pay part of the cost of their degrees. Since then, fees have increased repeatedly.

But student and staff resistance has also blunted the fee hikes. John Howard’s Liberal government introduced full upfront fees for domestic students in 1997. This was met with massive protests across the country including the occupation of university administration buildings. They were eventually scrapped after Labor returned to government in 2007. The Liberals’ efforts to deregulate fees in 2014 were also stopped.

Mass protest is the type of action we need to stop the latest fee hikes. University staff and students must come together to oppose the Morrison government’s attacks as well as the austerity measures on campus.

By Manon O’Neill

The post Fight begins against Liberals’ new cuts and fee increases appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Speeches at the HE Convention Statement launch meeting / online Parliamentary lobby, 21 July 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 12:00am in


  • Prof John Holmwood, Chair, Campaign for the Public University

The Labour Party position

  • Emma Hardy, Labour shadow minister for Higher Education, MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle Full text


  • Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth, Chair of Trustees, Council for the Defence of British Universities

More speeches will be published shortly…

Statement launch and online Parliamentary lobby, Tuesday 21 July

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 8:39pm in

Online meeting: Tuesday 21 July, 5.30-7.00pm

Covid-19 has plunged UK higher education into a deep financial crisis. Tens of thousands of posts are at risk, and over a dozen universities are predicted to be at risk of outright bankruptcy. But the pandemic has exposed problems, rather than creating them. Well before Covid-19, marketisation was wreaking havoc on higher education.

So far, the government has offered only limited support, amounting to little more than a sticking plaster on a fundamentally flawed system.

Through two large online meetings, the Convention for Higher Education has developed a set of demands for policymakers on how to rescue universities and put our higher education system onto a truly sustainable footing.

Now is the time to start pressing our politicians for meaningful action. This starts with an online lobby with the Shadow Higher Education Minister, Emma Hardy MP.

This is a crucial opportunity to take real action to defend our universities and students. Please join us!


  • Prof John Holmwood (Campaign for the Public University) will introduce the Convention for Higher Education’s recommendations for a policy response.
  • Representatives from the hardest-hit institutions (including Reading, Liverpool, SOAS) will share what is happening to them.
  • Emma Hardy MP, Labour shadow Higher Education minister, will outline the risks to universities and what Labour believes the government should do to provide support.
  • Lord Rowan Williams (Council for the Defence of British Universities) and Matt Crilly (NUS Scotland President) will offer short responses.

Other speakers have been invited to discuss how we can build the movement to defend higher education and access. We will also take as many questions from the floor as possible. 

The meeting was recorded.

Trump Administration Abandons Plan to Revoke Visas of International Students with Online-Only Schedules

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 9:45pm in

The Trump administration has withdrawn a plan proposed earlier this month to withhold or revoke visas of international students at U.S. schools whose courses have all been moved entirely online.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

The government agreed to rescind the guidance in response to a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The rescission of the July 6 directive, and an associated FAQ released July 7, means that the government reverts to guidance issued in March that allows international students to remain in the U.S. while taking a fully online course load. 

At least 20 states and the District of Columbia and about two dozen universities filed various lawsuits to block the policy change from going into effect. Harvard and MIT — both of which plan to conduct most of their fall coursework online — argued in their lawsuit that the July 6 directive reflected an effort by the government to force universities to reopen despite the continuing dangers posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Further details here.

The post Trump Administration Abandons Plan to Revoke Visas of International Students with Online-Only Schedules appeared first on Daily Nous.

Homeland Security To Ban International Students From U.S. If Their Colleges Adopt Online-Only Instruction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:53pm in

The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status or potentially face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

That text is from a new order issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security yesterday. (See also this press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

The impact of the order at this time is not quite clear, as it applies to students enrolled at schools or in programs that will be going “fully online,” and (a) not many schools have made the decision to go fully online and (b) it is not clear how “fully” is to be interpreted.

Many professors have been discussing the option of offering to conduct in-person independent studies with international students, but again it is unclear now whether that would be sufficient to allow international students to lawfully remain in the United States.

Discussion welcome, as are links to informed commentary elsewhere.

More details at:



The post Homeland Security To Ban International Students From U.S. If Their Colleges Adopt Online-Only Instruction appeared first on Daily Nous.

Future uses for student accommodation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/06/2020 - 1:44pm in


Housing, Students

Vacant dwellings 720

Since the late 1990s, Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) has been a feature of development in and around the centres of education in our cities, housing the burgeoning student population that has significantly contributed to Australia’s population growth in recent years.

Now, as overseas migration, including most international students, has slowed to a trickle, how will we use these towers of one-bedroom units? Kieran McConnell shares some insights from his capstone research project into PBSAs – future ghost towers, or ghettos in the sky?

High levels of vacancy resulting from depopulation or a change in economic conditions can have long-lasting ramifications for the urban environment in which vacant buildings and houses are located.

Cities have always experienced varying levels of occupancy due to the ebbs and flows of the economy and changes in living preferences. Normally, this is a gradual phenomenon, that allows for organic regeneration and growth (creative destruction).

However, when areas contain a heavy concentration of a specific demographic and/or an industry, rapid change, either deliberate or via external shocks leaves them overexposed to a rapid loss of said people and industries, and because policymakers can be blinded by the good times, there is generally little in the way of ready to go interventions to stem the tide.

COVID-19 – a challenge for ‘student cities’

Australian cities where international students account for a large share of residents are scrambling to find solutions to the possibility of empty high rises and streets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restrictions put in place to contain the virus have, in part, resulted in the first decline in student visa arrivals since March 2013. Adding, to the reduction in demand, capital cities are experiencing a boom in purpose-built student accommodation developments.

The City of Melbourne alone has over 10,000 accommodation units currently under construction or with planning approval. As a result, demand for student accommodation – once thought of as a given and projected to grow for the foreseeable future – is now staring down a double barrel of low demand and substantial oversupply.

These are the key elements for long term vacancy and has been historically correlated with social problems for cities including vandalism, abandonment of buildings and ultimately a cascading deterioration of whole areas.

Are there alternative uses for PBSAs?

To avert the negative consequence of population loss, other suitable uses for PBSA facilities need to be found.

However, questions have been raised over the ability for PSBA units to be retrofitted. And with an impending economic downturn (our recently-updated national forecasts are showing Australia’s national growth rate at 0.7% in 2020/21, down from 1.2% in 2019/20), some previous viable options such as general residential, hospitality and commercial use, may now be untenable.

For operators of PBSA facilities, they would prefer to fill the empty beds with students once again, and so too would city planners (this is reflected in the restrictive section 173 agreements that stipulate PBSA facilities can only accommodate students).

Getting students back to Australia

Lobbying by universities for the federal government to introduce policy that allows students back next year through ‘special travel bubbles’ and quarantine measures will in some way help avert a situation of ‘destudentifaction’ (out-migration of students). However, with Universities such a Melbourne Uni forecasting $1 Billion lost in revenue for the next three years, the status quo returning is looking highly unlikely.

As a consequence, operators of PBSA facilities in Australia have approached and been contracted by state and local governments to utilise extra capacity for social housing. Scape, Australia’s largest provider of PSBA has offered excess capacity to the Victorian State government for quarantine purposes and in Queensland, the state government is utilising a Scape PSBA facility in inner Brisbane to accommodate 300 homeless persons for the duration of the pandemic.

Being cautious about short term thinking

Little or no planning controls or policy exists for such a situation and worryingly, this change in use is being considered and implemented in extreme circumstances.

Yes, it will quickly increase the number of beds and satisfy immediate requirements, but will the converted units and their location meet the needs of its future residents, most likely our most vulnerable citizens?

Are PBSA facilities suitable for social housing?

This situation has led me to investigate whether social housing is an appropriate alternative use for PBSA facilities. My research focused on the spatial and building characteristics of PBSA facilities constructed post-2002 in the City of Melbourne to determine a level of transformation suitability.

The analysis generated a score based upon a like-for-like swap (structural changes not considered). It demonstrated that most PBSA facilities had a medium-to-high level of appropriateness. Generally, facilities have a high number of services present within walking distance. And despite the relatively small size of the standard PBSA units (Type 1 – PBSA design guidelines), facilities have potential to satisfy a combination of community housing guidelinesBetter Apartment Design Standards and current supportive housing recommendations, due the provision of communal areas.

Furthermore, in addition to satisfying these characteristics, the majority of PBSA facilities are made up of studio or one-bedroom units. This configuration according to Victorian Auditor General report into the state’s public housing system is what it desperately needs and is failing to address (there is an overall lack of one-bedroom stock across the state but there are also serious spatial mismatches – in particular, a lack of appropriate housing stock in growth areas).

A win-win-win

For State governments like Victoria, this change in use could quickly and effectively increase the quality and number of units available for social housing.

For the PBSA operators, it could help plug the huge revenue hole that the reduction in the number of international students coming to Australia has caused, and will continue to cause.

And for affected local governments, it may avert depopulation and its negative economic and demographic effects.

Learn more about this work

Kieran McConnell is a forecaster with our local government forecasting team, and has prepared this piece as a summary of his capstone research project. For a more detailed analysis of opportunities related to Purpose Built Student Accommodation in your area, or to read the full study, contact our forecasting team here.

Sydney Uni students and staff start the fight against cuts and fee increases

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/06/2020 - 12:28pm in

Students and staff at Sydney Uni are leading the way in the fightback against cuts on campus. With the Liberals announcing new plans to increase student fees, we need to escalate the fight to defend our education.

Sixty arts units are currently on the chopping block at the university. Casual staff have been told they are unlikely to have jobs next semester, with further cuts expected until revenue returns to “normality” in 2024.

Despite not being on campus, students have spent the last few weeks of semester building opposition to the cuts, passing motions in over 80 Zoom classes.

At a 100-strong protest in the last week of semester, students stuck a photo collage of the classes that had passed motions, as well as an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor with 700 signatures, to the wall outside the administration building.

Students are organising within their departments against the cuts. Government and international relations units are being heavily targeted, with 20 courses threatened—so students held a speak-out at Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence’s subsidised mansion. Seven history units are in jeopardy including American Slavery and Fascism and Anti-Fascism. On 2 July history students will hold a teach-in outside the Great Hall to highlight the attack on critical thinking.

Units in Sociology, Anthropology, English and political economy will also be suspended.

Despite quietly gutting Indigenous Studies over the years, rendering it what staff call a “skeleton” major, more Indigenous focused units are set to go.

Already protest action has forced Sydney University to revise down their list of arts subjects being axed.

Whilst the majority of units being cut are elective, management is trying to reduce staff even in compulsory units for degrees. Permanent staff are being asked to teach courses run by expert and experienced casual and fixed term staff. The outcome will be an erosion of teaching quality and higher workloads for permanent staff.

Whilst the revenue shortfall due to reduced international student enrolments is real, staff and students should not have to foot the bill.

Sydney Uni has the funds to avoid cuts, including $600 million in borrowing capacity plus $482 million in cash reserves. Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence’s $1.63 million salary would pay for around 10,000 hours of casual tutoring, according to NTEU policy and research director Paul Kniest.

No fee increases

The Liberals could fund the $5 billion hole across the university sector for a fraction of their $60 billion underspend on the JobKeeper program. Instead they have excluded university staff from JobKeeper and refused any extra support for the sector.

Now the Liberals want to make students pay more for their degrees, and push people into courses that serve the needs of business.

The government has announced a doubling of fees for humanities degrees. For these courses Commonwealth contributions will fall to 7 per cent and students will pay 93 per cent of the cost or $14,500 a year. Fees for law and commerce will also increase, while those for nursing, teaching, maths and science will be reduced. But overall students will pay a higher share of the cost of degrees, up from 42 to 48 per cent.

At a time where our Prime Minister claims slavery never existed in Australia, and defends statues of colonial figures including Captain Cook, fighting for a free, accessible education that critically engages with history and politics is of great importance.

Large student protests can help give staff the confidence to take the unprotected industrial action needed to win.

The rank and file staff networks that formed to fight the union’s now-defeated National Framework, which would have conceded across the board cuts to wages, need to be deepened and used to mobilise a fight against cuts and for federal funding.

We need to fight for a University education that is free and publicly funded, not one where big business and politicians dictate what students learn.

By Jordi Pardoel

The post Sydney Uni students and staff start the fight against cuts and fee increases appeared first on Solidarity Online.