University

Imperial College London Bans Parents From Graduation Ceremonies ‘Just in Case’

Imperial College London, home of some of the U.K.’s most infamous lockdown cheerleaders such as Professor Neil Ferguson, has enraged parents and students by banning parents from attending their children’s graduation ceremonies due to ‘Covid safety’. The Mail has more.

Parents have voiced their frustration at being unable to attend their children’s graduation ceremonies as a London University stuck rigidly to former Covid regulations.

Imperial College London refused to allow parents and other guests to attend graduation ceremonies in person at the Royal Albert Hall on March 10th and 30th, insisting on the safety policy as “cases of Covid are still prevalent in the U.K.”.

This is in spite of Government regulations coming to an end on February 24th.

As a result, many parents were forced to watch their children’s graduation ceremonies online before joining them for celebrations afterwards, the Telegraph reports.

24-year-old civil engineering graduate Alexander Grace accepted his diploma while his mother Lesley Grace and stepfather Stephen Radcliffe watched from a laptop in their Wembley hotel room.

The couple had travelled from Nottingham hoping to see the ceremony, which Mr. Grace had deferred last year in the hope that they could attend in person.

Woke Marketing Campaigns are Driving Customers Away

You know the old adage by now: ‘Go woke, go broke.’ It appears more and more consumers are noticing that brands are pursuing a social justice agenda in the hope of selling products. Up until now, this has been a relatively successful strategy, appealing to the consumerist millennials whose appetite for distraction and cheap credit can drive sales of the next thing to put on Instagram. Companies can tap into the insatiable desire of their customers for the next endorphin hit and neatly package it up with whatever the latest ‘collective good’ buzzword is on social media. Everyone’s happy – the company makes money, and the customer sleeps well at night as a result of playing their part in the latest virtue-signalling fad.

This is all well and good for short-term gain, but what happens when people start to see this for what it really is? Well, evidence suggests the tide is turning. Big brands are losing customers, sales and share price value.

As an industry, marketing and advertising have always generally been viewed as capitalism’s outlier thanks to their attracting more creative, ‘anti-establishment’ personalities. However, this has often worked to a company’s advantage by providing excellent cover; in seeking to sell their products by siding with the ‘little guy’ or participating in a ‘just cause’, they’re able to enjoy the benefits of capitalism while hiding behind a virtue-signalling shield.

One of the first examples of advertising that employed the power of protest can be found in a famous 1971 Coca-Cola commercial. It featured a mixed group of people singing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” in unison to suggest that the sugary drink is something that brings people together and represents a wholesome, communal experience. The advert was hugely successful for Coke – this set the direction of travel across the advertising industry. All brands wanted a ‘peace’ of the action.

Fast forward 40-something years and we see this strategy repeated over and over again, but with increasingly sinister undertones. In 2017 we saw Kendall Jenner and Pepsi produce the ‘Join the Movement’ campaign that used images associated with the Women’s March and BLM protests – and this time consumers weren’t so impressed. The resulting backlash forced the adverts to be withdrawn.

Then we have Colin Kaepernick – fresh from kneeling for the national anthem. He fronted a Nike campaign which involved the training-shoe manufacturer urging us to: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Again, some consumers were put off and burned their Nike products in videos on YouTube.

Then came the infamous Gillette ad which told men they were toxic. In less than two minutes they managed to alienate huge swathes of their customers.

Galway University to Use CCTV to Locate Unmasked Students

The National University of Ireland in Galway has pledged to locate unmasked students on campus by using CCTV. Any students caught not wearing a face covering will be subjected to disciplinary action. Connacht Tribune has the story.

Management at National University Ireland Galway (NUIG) have said they will use CCTV to track down students who refuse to wear face masks and can take disciplinary action against them.

Staff at the university were told this week to approach students who do not wear masks and if they refuse to wear one, CCTV will be used to “pick up on the individuals”.

NUIG’s Chief Operating Officer, John Gill, said the college’s adherence to Covid guidelines has been largely excellent.

“However, in recent weeks, we’ve had some reports of isolated incidents of non-compliance, particularly in public areas like corridors etc, and particularly relating to the wearing of face masks. We want to encourage everyone, staff and students, to return to full compliance.

“Our experience has been that if people are challenged, if somebody asks them to replace their face covering, they do so. If you find that you get a response that is now what you’d expect or people don’t return to wearing the face covering, please report it.

“If we have CCTV coverage, then we can pick up on the individuals and approach them directly, or if you know the identity of the individual, let us know and we can act on that,” said Gill.

He asked staff to provide the time, date and place so authorities could identify them through CCTV footage.

Worth reading in full.

All Bar Three Top U.K. Universities Refusing to Return to Full In-Person Teaching This Term

Only three of the top 27 U.K. universities have decided to stop bending to fear (or, perhaps, financial pressure) and to focus instead on proper education by returning to full in-person teaching this term. The other 24 say they have opted for a ‘blended’ approach which will include students ‘attending’ lectures online. The Times has the story.

The universities of Sheffield, Sussex and Southampton expect to return to in-person studies, with students expected to be on campus from the beginning of the academic year. …

The University of Sheffield has told students that they are “expected to attend in person, on campus, from the start date of your studies”, while Southampton said it would conduct all teaching “in-person and on campus”.

Sussex is planning for large lectures to go ahead in person, with alternatives available to students who cannot come to campus because of travel restrictions. The majority, including Oxford and Cambridge, will hold smaller group sessions such as seminars in person but larger lectures will remain online. …

Students overwhelmingly believe that the move online has affected their education, according to the latest monthly survey by the Office for National Statistics, conducted in June.

More than 60% of students who were in higher education before the pandemic said the lack of face-to-face learning had a major or moderate impact on the quality of their course. …

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, the Vice-President for Higher Education at the National Union of Students, said she was concerned that some universities could be using online learning as a way to cut the costs of running lectures.

“Nothing can replace the ability to socialise with and learn from your peers, or to engage with face-to-face, interactive teaching and learning and to have a full campus life,” she said.

Some universities are keeping lectures online so they can continue to increase their intake of students, particularly those from overseas, a source at a sector think tank said. “If you don’t have to worry about accommodating people or about the size of lecture theatres, how big can they get before it’s an outrage? You’re not even paying for the cinema at this point, you’re paying for Netflix,” the source said.

A record number of U.K. candidates secured a place at university this year, with 448,080 students expecting to start degree courses from next week, up from 441,720 last year.

Worth reading in full.

Students Need Help Addressing “Socialisation Issues” Following More Than a Year of Lockdowns, Says University Official

Having been cooped up in their bedrooms for much of the past 18 months, teenagers who are about to begin university need help addressing “socialisation issues”, according to an English university official. Universities will also have to give catch-up sessions to help make up for the amount of learning lost during school closures. The i has the story.

Last month, the London School of Economics and the University of Exeter estimated that pupils lost nearly a third of their learning time between March 2020 and April 2021 because of school closures and coronavirus disruption.  

With many schools unable to complete the full A-level curriculum, students were only assessed this summer on the topics they had covered. 

To make sure students will be able to complete their undergraduate courses, universities are therefore having to step in to bridge the learning gaps. 

The elite Russell Group of universities has teamed up with the Open University to launch ‘Jumpstart University’ – a free resource designed to help students settle into university. 

The platform – which is open to students in all universities – has subject-specific courses, and modules on study skills, student life, wellbeing and mental health. …

An official working for a university in the South of England told i that they were expecting to deliver “remedial work with a lot of students”.

“They cannot help but have had some of their intellectual and other development hindered by being at home for two years at such a critical part of their education. 

“We certainly noticed at the start of last year, some students had problems typical entrants didn’t have.” 

With the 2021 cohort experiencing disruption over two school years, catch-up would have to be provided “across the whole year” to make up for the amount of learning lost, they said. 

The source said universities would have to address “socialisation issues” as well as academic study. “If you’re locked away from age 16 to 18… if we’re back to normal by October, you’ve gone from a period of being locked down for almost two years, to something like as much freedom as you’re ever likely to get.” …

With student unions planning traditional freshers’ week activities for the first time since 2019, there are also concerns some students may over-indulge after two school years in which socialising was strictly limited.

Worth reading in full.

The Most Educated Are the Least Likely to Get Vaccinated Against Covid, According to New U.S. Study

Barack Obama’s recent birthday bash wasn’t a high Covid risk, according to a New York Times writer, because of the “sophisticated, vaccinated” guests who attended. But is high sophistication really an indication that someone has had the vaccine? Certainly not, according to a new U.S. study which found that the most educated are the least likely to get ‘jabbed’.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have studied well over five million survey responses and label those who “probably” or “definitely” would not get a Covid vaccine as ‘vaccine hesitant’.

As UnHerd reports, some findings are somewhat predictable, such as that counties with higher levels of support for Donald Trump in the 2020 election had higher levels of hesitancy. But others were, perhaps, less so.

More surprising is the breakdown in vaccine hesitancy by level of education. It finds that the association between hesitancy and education level follows a U-shaped curve with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated. People [with] a master’s degree had the least hesitancy, and the highest hesitancy was among those holding a PhD.

What’s more, the paper found that in the first five months of 2021, the largest decrease in hesitancy was among the least educated – those with a high school education or less. Meanwhile, hesitancy held constant in the most educated group; by May, those with PhDs were the most hesitant group.

Not only are the most educated people most sceptical of taking the Covid vaccine, they are also the least likely the change their minds about it.

 Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh study.

The study found that the most commonly stated reason for not getting vaccinated was concern about the potential side effects, with a lack of trust in government trailing closely behind.

The UnHerd report is worth reading in full.

Find the full U.S. study here.

Covid Vaccine Hesitancy Rates Among Young Brits Continue to Fall, According to ONS Data

The percentage of young Brits aged 18 to 21 hesitant about getting vaccinated fell to 5% just before ‘Freedom Day’, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), no doubt at least in part due to constant pressuring from the Government and universities. Sky News has the story.

The ONS survey looked at attitudes during the period from June 23rd to July 18th – a day before most Covid restrictions were lifted in England.

For 16 and 17 year-olds – who are now able to get a jab following last week’s announcement to extend the roll-out to that age group – hesitancy has decreased from 14% to 11%.

Among those aged 18 to 21, hesitancy around jabs went down to 5% from 9%, and dropped slightly for 22 to 25 year-olds from 10% to 9%. …

For the ONS survey, vaccine hesitancy refers to adults who have chosen not to be vaccinated, report being very or fairly unlikely to have a vaccine if offered, responded “neither likely nor unlikely”, “don’t know” or “prefer not to say” when asked how likely they would be to get a jab if offered.

The ONS data involved 15,433 people aged 16 and above in England, Scotland and Wales.

Overall, more than nine in 10 adults (96%) reported positive sentiment towards coronavirus vaccines while 4% reported hesitancy – figures unchanged from the previous findings which covered May 26th to June 20th.

The rate of vaccine hesitancy has fallen in most areas of the U.K., the ONS said.

Worth reading in full.

Universities to Continue Holding Online Lectures and Will Tell Students to Wear Face Masks and to Follow Social Distancing

Many students hoping to begin a normal university term this autumn will be disappointed to find that, while the Covid figures give cause for restrictions to be abandoned, very little will actually change from last year.

Almost all of the leading Russel Group universities have indicated that a proportion of their teaching will continue to be held online while students will still be expected to wear face masks on campuses and to continue social distancing. Not to mention the impending introduction of vaccine passports. The Sunday Times has the story.

The universities’ decision coincides with a clear fall in Covid cases. Even normally cautious scientists, such as Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, said that lockdowns and other restrictive measures were unlikely to be needed again.

Of the leading 24 Russell Group universities, 20 said that a proportion of undergraduate teaching will continue to be held online.

Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Conservative Education Secretary, said the universities stance was “outrageous”, and that they must return to normal as a matter of urgency this autumn. “Pubs, cinemas, theatres and football matches have all opened without restrictions,” he said. “What’s different about universities?”

University College London, the London School of Economics, Imperial College, Cardiff and Leeds all said that lectures would continue to be held online.

Warwick, Nottingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh said they would offer “blended learning” – a mix of online and face-to-face teaching for classes, seminars and lectures – but were unable to guarantee how much in-person teaching students would receive. Nottingham said it hoped to restart full face-to-face teaching next year, “subject to the course of the pandemic”.

Demands that free masks and free PCR tests be handed out to students and used are being led by the Universities and Colleges Union, which is also demanding social distancing on campus and that students get double jabbed. …

Cambridge said most teaching would be in person, but that some would be online, with details to be confirmed. Oxford said it planned most learning in person “enhanced by online teaching” and said some exams would continue to be held online next year.

Students at Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool have already launched petitions calling for a full return to “normality in terms of teaching” and demanding fee refunds. At Manchester, where some of the strictest lockdowns took place, nearly 10,000 have signed. Many students are still waiting to hear details of how their degree courses are to be taught when term starts next month. …

The Department for Education said: “Education providers are able to shape their courses without restrictions on face-to-face provision.”

Worth reading in full.

University Attempts to Lure Young Into Getting ‘Jabbed’ With £5,000 Prize

The tactics being employed to persuade young Brits to get vaccinated against Covid are being ramped up, much to the joy of – and, at times, thanks to the work of – the Government. The latest effort comes from the University of Sussex, which is offering fully vaccinated students the chance to win a £5,000 prize. BBC News has the story.

All students are being entered into the draw, with 10 winners able to claim a £5,000 prize each, if they can prove they are double-jabbed or exempt. …

Professor Adam Tickell, the Vice-Chancellor at Sussex, said the prize raffle was worth it if the numbers being vaccinated could be boosted even slightly.

“We know take-up among young people is patchy,” he said. “We know they’re not against the vaccine, they’re just not getting round to it.”

He added the financial cost to the university of the scheme was small compared to the human and social cost of potential disruption to students. 

“We know transmission rates are lower with vaccination, and the risk of serious illness for our staff and students is much lower in people who’ve been vaccinated.”

Vaccination remains voluntary for students, and there has been growing concern about the relatively low take-up by young adults. …

The university says its scheme is designed to provide an incentive for students to have both doses. …

Professor Tickell got the idea after hearing on a BBC programme that universities in the U.S. were offering incentives for vaccination. …

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “Vaccines are the surest way to put Covid behind us and for students to reclaim the freedoms that enrich university life. 

“The department is encouraging universities to look at creative ways to boost uptake, and to discuss the possibility of pop-up centres with local health partners – making it quick and easy for students to grab a jab.” 

Worth reading in full.

Plans to Bar Unvaccinated University Students From Lectures and Halls Shelved

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told university students they would have to wait until September to find out whether they would be required to show proof of vaccination to attend lectures and to live in halls. But the plans, which have received heavy criticism from the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students (NUS), have now been shelved, according to reports. BBC News has the story.

The idea of making vaccines compulsory for university students… was not ruled out by either Education Minister Vicky Ford or Downing Street when asked about it earlier this week.

And asked whether vaccination would be mandatory for students returning to halls of residence, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said a decision would be taken in September. 

“We will certainly make sure university students have advance warning, of course we’re going to be mindful of this,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday.

But now the idea of requiring students in England to show proof of vaccination to attend lectures or stay in halls of residence has been shelved, the BBC has been told.

The Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own coronavirus rules and education policy. 

Unions have been critical of making vaccines mandatory for university students. 

The UCU previously said this would be wrong and “hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to be vaccinated” as well as for international students. 

And the NUS had called the idea “appalling”, accusing the Government of “lining students up as scapegoats”. …

From the end of September, ministers have said people will need proof of full vaccination to attend nightclubs and other crowded venues in England. 

The full details of the plan are yet to be seen but an NHS Covid Pass – which you can obtain electronically or as a letter – will be used as proof.

Worth reading in full.