Studentsphere: Edition 5

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor


France plans elite top-10 mega-university

Paris-Saclay, a new French university will be built south of France’s capital as part of a massive government-driven academic and economic initiative.

The plan has initial funding of €7.5 billion (£5.9 billion) for investment, buildings and transport links.

The French government is bringing together 19 institutions into a single structure, with the aim of creating a university large enough to compete with global giants like Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Dominique Vernay, president of Paris-Saclay, says that within a decade he wants the new university to be among the top ranking world universities and in the “top two or three” in Paris.

The Paris-Saclay will have 70,000 students and 10,000 researchers with focus on graduate courses and recruiting more international students and staff.

The concept of combining individual colleges into a “federal university” has been taken from the UK.

Vernay said: “Our model isn’t that far from the Oxbridge model.”

The University will inherit staff with Nobel Prizes and some very well-established founding partners, including the Ecole Polytechnique, the HEC Paris business school and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).


L’Oreal agrees to change ‘bad at maths’ advert

Beauty giant L’Oreal Paris has agreed to change an advert that included a throwaway comment about not being good at maths after being challenged by a numeracy charity.

Recent L’Oreal Paris adverts showed British actress Dame Helen Mirren saying: “Age is just a number. And maths was never my thing.”

National Numeracy tweeted its disapproval that the adverts appeared to boast about poor maths skills.

L’Oreal Paris thanked the charity and vowed to change it “right away.”

National Numeracy chief executive Mike Ellicock said that this kind of throwaway remark is “easy to make” and “so damaging” in the sense that it “normalise[s] negative attitudes.”

“It’s unusual for a company to recognise and remedy their error in the way that L’Oreal have, so we really appreciate their response.

“We know that women and girls often have particularly low levels of confidence – and particularly high levels of anxiety – about maths. So it’s especially important that advertising directed at them doesn’t perpetuate the myth that women can’t do maths.”

National Numeracy was established in 2012 with the aim of improving everyday maths skills among adults and children in the UK – and changing negative attitudes to maths.

L’Oreal Paris UK general manager Elen Macaskil said the comment was intended as a playful reference to ageing and was never meant to be interpreted as negative towards maths.

She added: “L’Oreal is a strong advocate of women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] through our For Women In Science programme and as someone who did double maths A-level I fully support the manifesto for a numerate UK. We listen to our consumers and value their feedback which is why we took the decision to change our communication.”


Coalition debate over ‘hate preachers’ in English universities

The Tories have accused Vince Cable of attempting to water down a ban on “hate preachers” on English university campuses.

The government recently passed laws geared towards banning all “extremist” preachers from campuses.

However, Lib Dem Minister, Vince Cable, says guidance given to universities should say it only applies to those who explicitly invite terrorism.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps said there was a debate over where to draw the line when it came to extremist views.

He told BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics that Tories “don’t have a problem- at all- with free speech” and “people talking about different belief sets” but they “err on the side of caution” to “protect the British public.”

Lib Dem climate change minister Ed Davey accused Conservative ministers of “playing to the audience” on the issue and of being “vague” about how the new rules will apply.

He said Home Secretary Theresa May appeared to be breaking the consensus that action should only be taken if a speaker crossed the line into directly inciting violence.

Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, which became law in February, many public bodies, such as schools, universities and local authorities, have a duty to help prevent people being drawn into terrorism.} else {