It seems that everyone knows someone who has worked in the food industry who delights in telling hygiene horror stories, followed by the dire warning: don’t eat such-and-such a brand’s burgers or biscuits. At least some of these tales appear to be more than urban myths and result in prosecutions, and public hygiene inspectors have become the stars of the small screen. So why don’t we seem to hear about the many horrendous human errors that must occur in our own higher education sector?
Here are four examples that I have witnessed in three different respected British higher education establishments.
The first must occur frequently. A member of staff loses a set of exam papers. No one owns up and, to cover for the error, average marks are returned based on students’ performance in other exams.
Second, and more extreme, a student fails their dissertation and is given a year to resubmit before they can graduate. Despite adding extra material over the year, the student is awarded a lower mark. When they appeal, their original mark is recalculated and it turns out that the student did in fact pass at the first attempt a year earlier. Does the university own up? Why of course not, it simply raises the mark of the second submission and the student graduates, oblivious to the fact that they have wasted an entire year
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.