Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

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Science in London: The 2018 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Amused and amazed at Chris Heaton-Harris' letter to universities re: Brexit

MP Chris Heaton-Harris has written to universities' vice-chancellors asking for...

"...the names of professors at your establishment who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit.

Furthermore, if I could be provided with a copy of the syllabus and links to the online lectures which relate to this area I would be much obliged."

Not surprisingly academic Twitter is up in arms about it, with heavy sarcasm. There's a piece about it in the Guardian from which I got the text of the letter above.

The academics quoted in the article, on either side of Brexit or Remain, have said that they don't push a particular angle and that their opinions are acknowledged as just that.

I think the letter fails on two counts.

1. It asks for 'professors' not 'lecturers'. I suspect many (most?) university classes are people called Dr, not Prof. The letter's imprecise wording narrows the scope considerably.

2. I think it asks to look in the wrong thing. Surely it's the admin emails (sent to everyone) which convey the uncertainty and concern about Brexit. The ones I've seen (I work at two universities) don't push any particular agenda but they don't have to, the Brexit process is unknown and the presence of the emails - let alone their content - communicates that. The emails are about providing people with support, advice (including legal), collecting examples, considering future EU funding applications etc.

I presume that these facts are obvious to Mr H-H and that his letter serves another purpose that I must have missed.

Perhaps the syllabuses contain more informative information than I'm imagining they do, but 'topics' are quite different from how they're framed.



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