Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I miss the days.

10:43am: "Thank God that's over. I wonder what time I did. I think I could have saved 30 seconds on that corner, next time I'll take it wider."

10:42.30am: "Please hurry up, finish line. PLEASE!"

Emptiness and calm.

10:17am: "Breathe out."

10:16:55am: "Five, breathe in. Four, and out. Three, in, lean back. Two, small test push, breathe out. One, In. GO!"

10:16am: "nothing"

10:14am: "phew, I'm on time. This jersey is too hot, and my legs hurt. Ugh, why am I here?"

10:03am: "A few more pushes and I'll get to the start. My legs feel good, knees OK, back not bad. Glasses are steaming, is that a problem? Are the lenses right? I think this was the right bike, but should I be in another gear? Why is it so damn cold anyway?"

9:50am: "Everything's good. let's warm up. Did you know you should warms up about 30 minutes for a 10, to really hit the road running? I read about stretches for TT's, but I don't believe they always suit a rider, a little tendon stiffness actually increases force output, in most papers at least."

9:30am: "Ugh, why didn't I sign in earlier, I wonder if this number will fit my Jersey right. If i'm in a skinsuit I should try and fit it first. I wonder what I'll wear for the race, I can never work out how cold it will be when I'm going. As it's a ten I should wear a thicker Jersey to warm up at least, but I don't want to get too hot. If I take a drink in my pocket I can leave it wit hthe timekeeper, I don't think I'll need anything on the road."

9:25am: "Dammit, we're running later than I wanted, why aren't we already warming up. I reckon an hour or so should get me properly warm. I always mean to warm up for that long, but it's hard to get out that long when it's cold. My legs are stiff, and I feel sick. Is it worth racing today? Maybe I should just offer to marshal while Dad's on the road. Why are race HQs always hard to find? It makes no sense that we should be hidden behind some church hall. Oh, there's a sign."

8am - 9:20am: "So what do you think about today... How will we do? What's your training been like? Did you see the race on TV last week? How about today's race, who'll win? And in France? I didn't know that you went this way to the start..." et cetera ad infinitum.

7:30am: "Cold. Want to go to bed. Why are we awake anyway. Look at the wind, I'm not racing in that. This is stupid. Who would want to go to a bike race at this time of the day when it's so early. I think I'll just stay in bed for a few more hours."

5:30am: "I'm gonna fuckin' SLAY it tomorrow."

11:30pm: "I'm gonna fuckin' SLAY it tomorrow."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Where the money goes.

I suppose before I start complaining I should make it clear that the comparison I'm about to make isn't entirely fair. NewUni is funded by the NHS, so as long as they fill their student quota the course will have the right level of funding and the lecturers needn't be forced into research heavy contracts. Additionally, a lot of this post is my opinion on HE rather than fact. The lack of references shows that much of it is just what I have experienced rather than facts.

My old University, where my first undergrad is from, has some problems I hear. When I was there I experienced the vicious cycle first hand, and I've seen how it can affect many different universities across the UK. Most of the money that universities receive and are free to spend is dependant on the Research Assessment Exercise scores that the institute gains. It is, therefore, in the interest of the institute to hire staff who qualify (i.e. non fixed-term contracted researchers) who are completing significant research in their field.

Because of the cost in this almost all lecturers are hired on the basis of being part researcher and part lecturer. The issue with this is that there is often seen to be a loss in the quality of teaching as staff are drawn away from the classroom. The loss of lecture time and time spent working for students aims results in a decrease in the quality of education, in term harming the student satisfaction during their degree.

Worse scores in the NSS mean less students want to study at a given institue and the quality of applicants (a horrible measure based on their entry qualifications) decreases. So the university spends more money on advertising and attracting applicants, whilst continuing the cull on quality lecture staff.

I don't know if this is an entirely fair assessment, but based on the satisfaction responses from my OldUni, where research was the main source of income, and my NewUni, where the course is publicly funded, I would say that the RAE only helps universities where students aren't considered as important as perhaps they should be.

rant over.