Archive for May 22, 2019

Should students be (financially) compensated for strike action by lecturers?

Posted in Cardiff, Education, Politics with tags , , , , on May 22, 2019 by telescoper

Regular readers of this blog will know that last year I was still employed part of the time at Cardiff University and during that period I was participating in strike action called by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) over pensions. As a result of that action students on my module on Physics of the Early Universe missed quite a lot of lectures (and I was docked a large fraction of my pay).

I refused to do extra lectures after the strike was over to make up for those lost, as it seemed to me that defeated the point of the strike action, but I did make notes available for the students (which I do anyway). Students were also given access to recordings of the previous year’s lectures on the same module. I know some lecturers also adjusted their examinations and/or other assessments to exclude material that had not been covered.

It seems practice for dealing with this (admittedly difficult) situation has varied from institution to institution, and some students who feel that they missed out as a result of the strike have apparently asked to be compensated by their University. Institutions could of course pay compensation to students out of the money saved by not paying lecturers, but that wouldn’t go very far because only a small part of the £9000+ students pay in fees goes to the salaries of teaching staff. Another issue is that I recall one or two students didn’t come to lectures even before the strike started. Should they be compensated too?

Anyway I thought this might be an interesting topic for a poll, so here goes:

As always views are welcome through the comments box too!

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An Informational Approach to Cosmological Parameter Estimation

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2019 by telescoper

In order to avoid having to make a start on examination marking I was having a trawl through the arXiv this morning when I found an interesting paper by Stephens & Gleiser called An Informational Approach to Cosmological Parameter Estimation. The abstract is:

You can download a PDF of the full paper here.

I haven’t had time to go through the manuscript in detail but while it doesn’t seem to say very much of a specific nature about the Hubble constant tension issue, it does introduce an approach which is new to me. The Jensen-Shannon Divergence is a variation on the familiar Kullback-Leibler Divergence.

Anyway, I’d be interested in comments on this from experts!