19 comments By Neil

  • I'm told 'we' are looking at a minimum of £50M shortfall, and up to £400M is a possibility, these numbers are for the first year and unsurprising given the sectors reluctance to give up the reliance on the easy money from 'overseas' students. That said with Austraila being threatened by the CCP we may pick up some of those fuerdai who just have to study overseas. Year on year shortfall's will be much harder predict and with the collapse of airlines and ongoing difficulty and expense in flying that's being predicted will any be able to make it to the UK anyway?

  • OMB TDS strikes again, that so many 'trials' appear to be deliberately biased to fail as the placebo being used isn't 'inert' (Vitamin C), according to some involved, comes as no surprise. Anti-Trump or Big-Pharma not wanting an existing drug out of patent to be proven useful?

  • I'm awaiting the first announcement that UK Universities taking DARPA money for research are to be included.

  • Given the way modern asbestos free sintered metallic brake pads 'eat' brake discs, compared to the old asbestos materials, this is unsurprising. Perhaps developing a new high temperature non-asbestos matrix to carry the braking resin (for want of a better term) that is less aggressive than the metal to metal pads/discs would be a good start, of course it would have to be a 'safe' material, unlike asbestos. Though with lower performance electric vehicles fully enclosed drum brakes that retain the wear materials might make sense?

    Commented on: 2020-01-21T10:32:47.440

    An image showing an ultra low emission zone in London

    Brake dust damages lungs as much as diesel exhaust fumes

  • Having worked in the petrochemical industry as an instrumentation specialist this comes as no surprise, too many plants are 'run to failure' for maximum profit on minimum investment. With regular testing of system integrity and thickness/erosion tests of pipework such failures can be avoided, a prime example in the UK:

    Commented on: 2019-09-27T09:27:40.897

    Photo of smoke seen at a KMCO plant in Crosby, Houston in the US on 2nd April 2019

    Leaking filter caused deadly explosion at US plant

  • "The joys of train travel were a common theme" Indeed, though travelling to Italy I'd still rather fly from the UK, Eurostar to Paris is fine, crossing Paris isn't easy and then there's the awful TGV to endure to Italy, no water to wash hands or flush toilets and no toilet paper going was bad enough, the return trip was even worse. Travelling on UK cattle class is better in my experience!

    Commented on: 2019-08-30T11:03:07.933

    An image showing a man with wings who is cutting one of his wings

    Avoiding air travel as an academic

  • Further reading:

    Commented on: 2019-08-23T10:47:11.107

    An image showing a woman working late in a laboratory

    How long can scientists argue about working hours?

  • The greatest danger from this is the effect on others as an unspoken expectation. No matter how many times it is repeated, by the University 'sausage' machine's (in)human resources department and policies to Deans and heads of dept that there's no compulsion to work long, often excessive hours.
    Staff and students, especially post grad students, pick up on this as a subliminal requirement to work too many hours adversely affecting their health, both (especially) mental and physical. That the Science Council has produced a report:- Technicians: Providing frontline and vital support for student mental health and wellbeing, illustrates excessive working hours expectations are a factor, and it's often technicians who have to deal with the student, and initial response to any incident caused.
    That so many academics end up becoming their job title and lose all reality beyond it is unsurprising and the further up the greasy pole they clamber the worse it gets, an item on keeping up with academic literature published in the THE illustrates some of the issues too. Even Nature has touched on it recently, with an item on refusing to do peer reviews during vacation.
    And with the UK University employers failing to keep pay in line with inflation why should staff be expected to give even more for less? The current under the radar offer of 2% if the unions don't consult the members and just accept without mandate, over the 'public' offer of 1.8% shows the level of continued exploitation of staff in the sector.

    Commented on: 2019-08-23T10:21:23.847

    An image showing a woman working late in a laboratory

    How long can scientists argue about working hours?

  • Part of the problem is the very small cohort a course taught, even if only in part, in Welsh attracts. The Welsh language proponents may have forced Welsh to be taught in Welsh schools, but a lot of Welsh children hate both the language and those that force it upon them, even in areas where at the first hint your an outsider and the locals swap into Welsh having been conversing in English it's not popular with most young people. I learnt to speak enough Welsh to tell them to shut up and speak English whilst at Uni, that really is fun as it confuses the Welsh Nationalists no end.

    Commented on: 2019-06-05T17:13:56.407

    An image showing packed up laboratory supplies

    Closing time?

  • STEM under funding is already a problem, in some Universities with large overseas student intakes, or creative accounting using monies from 'cheaper to run' non-STEM courses, STEM barely survives. Others have closed less popular or expensive STEM courses, or even whole departments as Exeter did in 2006. Augar is a long way short on the answers and raises further questions that few are willing to face up to let alone answer.

  • Interesting, but I'm not sure that India's reluctance is such a bad thing, with GM and glyphosate along with derivative plants that either produce no or non-viable seeds, locking farmers into buying seed from the monopolistic mega industrials, and the now clearer effects on apiculture and pollination (unintended?).


  • " ‘Evidence clearly shows that increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research environments enhances excellence, innovation and creativity,’ "

    EQUALITY of OPPORTUNITY with meritocracy or it ends up killing off a lot of potential research and researchers careers is what we've experienced in the UK.

    As one female senior academic who was asked by her University to lead their Athena Swan 'task force' also discovered it's hugely time consuming, meaning she had to step back from her leading research activities, hardly helping her career.

    One can only hope it works for the Canadian's, and isn't just another Trudeau attempt to garner votes...

  • A major issue I see time and again is high powered visitors being given guided tours by those that don't actually work in, let alone understand, facilities around campus. The fact that high ranking management person acting as a guide has such a high level of access enabled on their I.D. swipe card doesn't seem to matter to anyone. Not inducted into the building with ALL the safety training should mean NO ACCESS!

    Commented on: 2019-05-13T17:09:17.350

    An image showing lab coats on hooks

    Taking the lead on safety

  • If it makes the milksop university management face up to and deal with the petulant children's demands robustly, instead of caving in, then it's probably a very good idea. At least the USA has the First Amendment, for those of us elsewhere in the world free speech and the Academic Freedom it enables are long gone.

  • Unsurprising, other Universities have been cutting Chemistry courses or even whole departments for years. Like most practical STEM it costs a lot more than the fee's to run and given the very limited student base "currently the only one that can be partly taken in Welsh" hard to see any way to recruit more students.

  • How many more cases have gone undetected?

  • Having dealt with the effects of bullying on lessor staff and students a lot of the bullies I'm aware of operate from a position of power within Academia. The worst are usually the first to claim 'discrimination' and 'bullying' against themselves when called to explain their actions against others, even using the process of investigating an accusation of bullying as an example of bullying and discrimination against them. Whilst some try to dress up their behaviour as 'strong management', usually ex-services fore-lock tugging NCO's employed as middle managers, others are failing Academic's who lash out verbally at anyone they perceive as below below them simply to make themselves feel better, with female on female personal attacks being the most common of those.

    Unfortunately most University anti-bullying Policies are administered by (in)Human Resources departments which all too often turn out to be toothless tigers.

    Yes I'm a Trades Union Rep.

    Commented on: 2018-12-06T11:09:54.553

    shutterstock 1090748609 [converted]

    Bullying is everyone's problem

  • With the very recent alleged chemical weapon use by IS in Syria, and reports of further weapons being prepared, the need for the major states to stop supplying the chemical components (precursors) has never been more urgent. The willingness to do so however...

    Commented on: 2018-11-29T10:43:02.540

    A photograph of people receiving treatment following the alleged chemical gas attack in Eastern Ghouta, Syria.

    What now for the world's chemical weapons watchdog?