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Showing posts from May, 2020

Constituencies, wards and local councils

Constituencies (a.k.a. parliamentary constituencies): each electing one Member of Parliament (MP) every 5 years to the House of Commons (Parliament). There are 650 constituencies in the UK.Wards (a.k.a. electoral divisions or electoral wards) is the primary unit of English electoral geography for borough and district councils, county councils or city councils. Each ward elects either one or two councillors to be members of the local council. There were 9,456 electoral wards/divisions in the UK and each ward has an average electorate of about 5,500 people, but ward population can vary substantially.Local council is made up of a number of Councillors (Cllr) who meet regularly to make decisions about the direction of the council and the work it does for the community. As elected bodies local councils are responsible to their local community. Attending a council meeting is the best way to find out what they do and how they make decisions. Members of public can attend public council meetin…

Comparison of video conferencing and online class platforms

Working from home is becoming the new norm during Covid-19 lockdown. Companies and education providers are using various platforms for video conferencing and teaching online. Microsoft Teams and Zoom are the most popular platforms in companies, Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) sectors.

I compared features of the best video conferencing and online class platforms and rank them below.

- Zoom is more stable than Teams. Zoom allows the host to control many aspects from password protecting the room to admitting people in individually. Zoom is normally paid but has a limited free version. The limitation of the free version is that max meeting length is 40 minutes, though after that you can immediately restart the meeting. With careful setup Zoom could be used for remote music instruction. The video https://youtu.be/bFRHMy2GLMs shows how to set up Zoom to get the best out of online music lessons. Zoom has a few things that Teams doesn't support, e.g. annotations on screen, …

Country ranking of higher education systems on effectiveness

Finnish universities are the most effective in the world when taking into account national income levels, according to a ranking of higher education systems.

Top 10 countries, adjusted for economic development, are FinlandSouth AfricaUnited KingdomDenmarkCanadaSwedenAustraliaNew ZealandSwitzerlandNetherlandsThe rankings are judged against metrics related to resources, environment, connectivity and output, based on 24 separate variables, including the number and impact of research articles produced, university enrolment and graduate unemployment, a qualitative assessment of a country’s policy environment, and spending on tertiary education as a proportion of gross domestic product. The development-adjusted ranking is measured by adjusting GDP in purchasing-power parity terms to compensate for different prices across countries.

It shows that there is a strong relationship between levels of research funding and performance but the mix between public and private funding is of little impor…

UK University Groups

Universities in the UK commonly form alliances or groups when they share common goals, visions or characteristics. University Groups can be a useful place to start when you are looking for a list of similar institutions.
The Russell Group leads the league tables in terms of almost every traditional subject (classics, maths, English etc.) and tend to ask for the highest entry requirements. The University Alliance and Million+ groups contain new (post 1992) universities and provide some specialist or modern courses that you won’t find at the more traditional institutions. These newer universities tend to be more flexible in terms of the qualifications that they accept. The GuildHE Group represents specialist institutions that focus on particular courses. Finally, the Cathedrals Group share faith-based values. 

The Russell Groupis a group of 24 universities with a shared focus on research and a reputation for academic achievement and includes many of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious u…

Transit system and modes of travel

Modes of travel are ordered below from the most active, energy efficient and environment friendly to the least.

1. Walk

2. Cycle, including scooters and hoover boards

3. Buses

4. Streetcars

5. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is faster than buses and streetcars due to their dedicated rights of way.
6. Light rail, e.g. metro, underground, tram
7. Heavy rail for longer distance, intercity transit

8. Private cars

9. Air travel. For trips of about 300 miles, air travel begins to be more effective than rail, and 500 miles is about the limit before air travel becomes the preferred way of traveling.

UK Higher Education news sources

HEPI is short for the Higher Education Policy Institute. It is a UK-wide, independent organisation funded by universities. Its news and reports are in-depth and data-driven. If you have times to digest articles and reports properly, HEPI is a good source of info. You can follow it on Twitter @HEPI_newsMedia FHE provides news in the UK HE and FE sector. Its HEi-know daily and weekly newsletters are very useful one-stop-shop for briefing reports, news and events. You need to be a registered HEi-know user to access briefing reports, stories and other information and services. The daily update newsletters are sent on every weekday morning at 8am. You can request a 30-day free trial. After that, the Newsletter is available on an institution-wide basis. Many articles are still available without a subscription. You can follow it on Twitter @mediafheWonkhe UK HE policies and debate. Subscription to the WonkHE daily is free, but the content of its daily newsletter is not as rich as HEi-know da…