Campus Watch

University of Oxford: Oxford College bans Christian Union from Fresher’s Fair

Balliol Christian Union was told it was not allowed representatives at a fresher’s fair because the college’s student body (JCR) wanted the fair to be a “secular space”.

A multi-faith stall was allowed to hand out leaflets, but nobody associated with the Christian Union were permitted to attend.

A motion has since been passed accusing the JCR of “barring the participation of specific faith-based organisations” and describing the step as “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”.

In an email exchange with the Oxford student newspaper JCR vice chair Freddy Potts allegedly justified the decision, claiming “Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”

Ian White


University of Aberdeen: Aberdeen Principal: “I’ll not admit poor students just to hit targets”

Sir Ian Diamond, principal at the University of Aberdeen, has hit back at claims that his institution is not pulling it’s weight in light of statistics showing that his university has the worst record in Scotland for admitting disadvantaged students.

He also criticised the formula used by the Scottish government to assess student backgrounds, claiming that by focusing on students from the poorest 20% of postcodes in Scotland, the formula ignored rural poverty and put universities not in large cities at a major disadvantage.

Only 4.3% of Aberdeen students come from these postcodes. If the university fails to raise this number beyond 10% by 2021, it could be hit with fines under new rules.

Ian White


University of Exeter: University of Exeter students to face investigation after mocking sexual assault and the Las Vegas attack

Students at the University of Exeter have been put under investigation after wearing hi-vis jackets with swastikas, messages mocking rape and crass comments referring to the recent tragedy of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

It comes after the university had just been granted £100,000 from Sir Christopher Ondaatje to support the cricket programme the institution runs.

Written on the tabards were controversial ‘jokes’, including one student who had “floor 32”

emblazoned across the back of their tabard – a reference to the Mandalay Bay Hotel where Stephen Paddock opened fire and killed 58 people.

Leaders of the social event, which was held by Cambrone School of Mines, urged the next morning for students to destroy the tabards.

Messages sent to the group chat read “Whatever you do, do not wear your high vis from last night to your practical. This is for your best interests”.

A spokesman for the university said “The University of Exeter and Falmouth Student Union (FXU) have a zero-tolerance policy towards racist, misogynist or similarly highly-offensive behaviour of any form.

“An investigation was launched immediately and the consequences for anyone found to have breached our code of conduct will be determined by our disciplinary processes”.

Beccy Hutchinson


University of Cambridge: Cambridge University fund under pressure to ditch fossil fuels

The long standing and close financial relationship between Cambridge and the fossil fuels industry has been sharply criticised in the latest in a series of clashes between the university and campaigners.

Sixty leading academics have warned Cambridge, urging the university to give up it’s significant investment from the fossil fuels industry or face serious damage to its finances and reputation.

Academics including Rowan Williams and Noam Chomsky have stepped up efforts to push for action on carbon-intensive investments that are “incompatible with the Paris climate agreement”.  

It has been estimated that the Cambridge divestment fund has invested around £370 million in fossil fuels. 

According to a freedom of information request submitted in 2015, Cambridge received £15.8m in funding from six carbon-intensive companies between 2009 and 2014. 

Ian White


Cardiff Metropolitan University: Cardiff Met plans to increase student numbers, whilst also cutting 100 jobs

Concern has been raised regarding plans for 100 job losses at Cardiff Metropolitan University as the announcement has had no effect on the university’s plans to continue to increase it’s student intake over the next 5 years.

A summary of the university’s strategic plan shows an intention to reduce staff pay as a percentage of its income from 62% in 2015-16 to 55% by 2022-23.

An academic member of staff in the School of Education at the university’s Cyncoed campus said: “I am really concerned about our future under the new plans being put forward by the university.

“We keep being told that the university has no extra money to give us a proper pay rise yet they can find money to pay for new senior management. All this at a time of massively decreasing student numbers across the university sector and worries about future funding for all universities.”

However the university insists it’s strategic plan is financially sustainable and will have no negative impact on the quality of teaching.

Ian White