Online learning is bad news for students

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s announcement that universities can resume face-to-face teaching this autumn has been welcomed by many students. But vice-chancellors are not so happy about the news. Most Russell Group universities have said they will continue to keep some elements of their teaching online – so-called ‘blended learning’ – revealing their opportunistic embrace of a digital ‘new normal’. For cynical university leaders, it seems that lockdowns weren’t a disaster, but an opportunity to accelerate their pre-existing plans for digital education. Since the disastrous marketising reforms of 2011, most universities have been locked into a ferocious competition to attract students and maximise fee income. For many institutions, this has involved grandiose, debt-fuelled and speculative investments in

Why is India’s parliament discussing an Oxford free speech row?

As with almost every country around the world, India is busy dealing with the Covid crisis. But its parliament briefly turned its attention away from the pandemic in the last few days to another issue playing out thousands of miles away: a row at Oxford University involving an Indian postgraduate student. This no ordinary campus bust-up: the fallout could have big implications for the relationship between India and Britain. Rashmi Samant, who is the first child in her family to go to university, made history last month when a landslide victory saw her become the first Indian woman to head up the Oxford Student Union (OSU). But her victory was short-lived.