Episode 88 – 10th June 2011

This week we have an exclusive clip of Richard Dawkins talking about the New College of the Humanities, a brief chat with PZ Myers, and we find out why James Thomas hasn’t washed for about three weeks now. And more!


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Richard Dawkins on the New College of the Humanities (1:15) by James O’Malley (ft an EXCLUSIVE clip of Dawkins talking about it)
PZ Myers interview (7:53) by James O’Malley and Liz Lutgendorff
Death of the Operating System (15:15) by Pete Hague
What are we running out of? (20:57) By Drew Rae
Germany’s lack of nuclear ambition (27:21) by Sven Rudloff
Nicked: The Nick Clegg Musical (38:20) by James O’Malley and Liz Lutgendorff
SmellyTweet (44:39) by James Thomas
Bad PR Predictions (49:22) by Michael Marshall
The sketch after the credits is by David Lovesy at TLC Creative

Follow-up Links

12 thoughts on “Episode 88 – 10th June 2011

  1. The protesters don’t like the idea of Dawkins & AC Grayling setting up a full fee paying university. Possibly it didn’t occur to them it means more places for everyone else.
    The guy in the leather jacket started a long winded rant, so we stood up and turned our backs on him, that seems to have made rather angry.

    The American lady sitting next to me wondered while the police didn’t take them away, so I explained the UK police doctrine of 5 to 1 odds in their favor, either that or they where trying to figure out how to kettle the stage. I also explained Kettling is not about giving protesters a nice cup of tea. It was explained to me that this doesn’t happen in the US as the police have guns.

    There was another small protest later, a young couple got up and approached the stage. They didn’t use the mics so no one could hear what they said, and then the police took them away.

    But in general they didn’t get much sympathy from the audience.

  2. I agree that the rising fees of education will deter many away and that £18k is painfully high to charge a student. Yes, that may be how much it costs to educate a student, but the government should pay more to the universities to offer cheaper education.
    With that said, I disagree with the approach these protesters have taken. Dawkins is a lecturer who will be working at a high-fee university. It is not his fault that the current economic climate has led to rising tuition fees. If they are going to target Dawkins, then they should also target all other lecturers who work at universities who are raising their tuition fees, and many of them hate the idea.
    I went to this discussion last night, after I finished my last exam at university. I love what my degree (Biochemistry) has taught me and I loved listening to Dawkins and Myers discuss a little about my subject last night. But I don’t think I would have gone to university if they were to charge me £9k, let alone £18k! And my fantastic lecturers who have taught me everything and who, like Dawkins, have had their tuition paid for them by the government, feel saddened by these recent increases in fees.

  3. It seems obvious that the protesters are aggressively against any person/s right to provide a quality product and to charge an appropriate tuition fee. No-one is making it compulsory to attend the NHC and pay the fees. The greater the number of positions taken must therefore mean that the same number of places then become available in the pre-existing institutions. Why is it the responsibility of Grayling, Dawkins and co to provide a free education to all comers. The provision of 1 in 5 places initially then progressing to 1 in 3 students being recipients of support is laudable. Perhaps the protesters have no real understanding of the value of education whilst others are subsidizing it for them. A 50% subsidy from the public purse is obviously not enough for some.

    Re-posted from the PD extra

  4. Steve,

    There are already private institutions in this country, which do not attract protest. The private university system in the US largely attracts ire because of the very high cost of attending them, not their private status per se. So clearly the objection is not about somebody providing a product at a cost people will pay. No need to get your free market knickers in a twist.

    The objections seem to be that a) the NCH will sponge of publicly funded institutions b) that, between tuition fees and the costs of living in London, its squarely aimed primarily at the wealthy and doesn’t admit mainly on academic merit as people rightly believe and educational institution should and c) its symbolically offensive during an era or rising fees.

  5. Perhaps you could have had a section from one of the people opposing the proposed new university, as I am sure that without it, many (perhaps even most) will be baffled as to what the objection is and why they think it wrong. Even reading the above post doesn’t really help

  6. I don’t think it is a surprise to anybody that the cost of places has caused concerns. Not that students are expected to pay (after all, which Universities in England don’t charge fees? It is not a case of “there are some private universities”, it is a case of “Universities by their nature are run as a business”). But the amount that is being asked: Double the comparable costs for THE top end “Prestiege Product” degrees. That is already a margin that would seem almost unjustifiable on the outset, but we also have to consider:
    * Subsidised places in Scotland.
    * The Lib-Dem promises relating to student charges.
    * That the £18K is dangerously close to the average years salary, putting it far out of the reach of the people it should be trying to attract (otherwise it will be literally preaching to the converted).
    *We are talking about students having the gumption to have their voices heard. Students. When exactly did I cross into a mirror universe where Uncle Ben never got shot, Spock has the evil beard, and Students and peaceful protests don’t go hand in hand?

  7. I’m for public education, education should be paid for by the people it is to benifit, that is everyone. I don’t know why this user pays mentality has entered our culture. The user always paid, it’s just now gevernments want to ask you to pay twice. Why? Because too many people are phobic of tax. Try getting into government on the promise that you’ll raise taxes. Don’t blame Grayling and Dawkins for wanting to set up the kind of education system they benifited from they can’t do it for free, it costs what it costs. Write your local politican and tell them you’ll be willing to pay an extra 5% tax say (or whatever) provided they provide a high quality education for all.

  8. Screw the rich …. why should their kids get a free education at the ordinary tax payers expense. Tax them and then charge them again for education.

    No education without double taxation I say

  9. I was suprised your slant was so in favour of the protestors and against setting up of a college dedicated to education.

  10. The protesters (99% sure its the SWP) are correct in what they stand for and against with regards to education but was this the best way to get the message across? I think it was a tactical error. Perhaps instead they could have leafletted the event, brought banners inside and made points at the question section at the end.

  11. This puzzles me. Humanities are at risk in universities with a lower reputation, because humanities degrees are seen (wrongly) as being of less value than clever stuff like physics, maths and law. These chaps have gone out on a limb and raised the cause of humanities, making it clear how special it is, and in a way that can be replicated by other institutions (e.g. small tuition groups, *higher* education rather than a degree/job interview certificate). Goodness for the humanities and goodness for humanity. It is sad that higher education isn’t free for all. And yes, the government may reduce the ‘funded’ provision because of private providers. But in the round, I’m a bit dumbfounded that these protesters are picking on this rather than the host of higher education products and services that come with an equally high price tag (e.g. the mainly best avoided MBAs or overpriced degrees for overseas students).

    The Humanities are Good. It’s Good that someone wants to teach them well. It’s the world we’re in that things cost money (excel training, learning how to swim, self-defence, piano, economics, apprenticeship schemes). To pick on this is nose spiting at best.

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