The Reporter
Issue 491, 16 June 2003
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Send your letters to editor of the Reporter, Vanessa Bridge. Email or send by internal post to press office, 12.67 E C Stoner building


Gods or devils (Nick Allen, central student administration) - Can you please assure Simon Robinson and others (Reporter 490) that the only link between Manchester United and divinity lies in the fevered recesses of Alex Ferguson’s mind. Its not for nothing that their nickname is ‘the red devils’.

A thorough search (Andrew J. Baczkowski, statistics) Having just watched an invigilator check a student’s dictionary - that the written authority was in order and then searching carefully and systematically through the pages to check they also were in order - I was reminded of the search of Mahbub Ali’s belongings as witnessed by Kim. I am sure such a thorough search of a dictionary is necessary so I was amazed to see that no search was done ‘between the soles of his slippers’! Is the University not going far enough?

Where was the first? (Barry Holroyd, medicine) – Reading Leeds film first honoured in new research centre (April 30 press release and Reporter 490) prompts me to send you the following link - which reports claims that Louis Le Prince’s first motion pictures were filmed in early October 1888, before he filmed traffic crossing Leeds Bridge later in October 1888 which are therefore erroneously claimed to be the first motion pictures, and commemorated by a blue plaque on Leeds Bridge.
The film of early October was taken in the garden of his father in law, Mr Joseph Whitley at Oakwood Grange. The date is fixed in early October by the appearance of his mother/mother-in-law in the film, as she was to die later that month.
I don’t know whether Oakwood Grange is still standing, but I understand it to have subsequently become the home of Sir Edwin Airey, the builder. If the film taken in the garden of Oakwood Grange really was the first motion picture, that really would be a ‘first’ for the University of Leeds in bringing this to wider public knowledge, and by having a blue plaque put up at Oakwood Grange (if it’s still standing).

Richard Howells, communications studies responds: Barry may have a point, but as with many things concerning Le Prince and the invention of moving pictures, it is a matter of both conjecture and definition. This is especially true when we factor in the term ‘successful’! Certainly, Le Prince made moving pictures at Oakwood Grange around the same time of the Leeds Bridge footage - one indeed features the unfortunate grandmother; in the other Le Prince’s son Adolphe plays the melodion. But the evidence about which came first is at best circumstantial, and which worked well enough to feature in the primacy debate is an additional issue.
Putting up a plaque at Oakwood Grange would have been a nice idea ... unfortunately, it is now a modern housing estate. Leeds Bridge, however, remains, so given the state of (a) the argument and (b) Leeds, the current one is still probably the best that can be done.

Assessment overload (Friedy Luther, dentistry) - Writing from my perspective as a clinical academic with both NHS and University commitments, I know we have to consider whether students are over-assessed; however, has anyone considered whether staff are over-assessed? These are just some of the assessments/appraisals/reviews/ monitoring arrangements etc that have come my way over the last year or two: RAE, NHS consultant appraisal, general dental council visits, specialist advisory committee (Royal College, SAC) visits, record of in-training assessments (RITAs), QAA, QMEU plus periodic review, continuing professional development. Oh yes, and revalidation is looming on the horizon.
Yours, Friedy ‘please let’s have another assessment’ Luther

Too many petals (Tony North, biochemistry and molecular biology) – Thank you for printing my note about the Leeds crest in Reporter 490. Unfortunately, I am feeling a little crest-fallen. By some strange mutation, ‘droopy 11-petalled blooms’, which was what I emailed, has become transmogrified into ‘droopy 121-petalled blooms’, which rather spoils the argument (5+6 = 11).

Sorry – Editor

Multilingual (Adrian Smith, library) – I think it is time for the University’s webpages to offer information in more languages. Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese etc for the EU and several others. See for example: the webpages of the Liebig University in Giessen ( englisch.htm), the Sorbonne in Paris ( sp_somm/ index.htm) and “G. D’Annunzio” University in Chieti and Pescara, ( There must be academics or student societies who could provide idiomatic translations.

Editor’s response: There is a big ‘internationalisation’ push in mainland Europe. Some universities are offering English language pages on their websites and some are teaching courses in English to build their international profile and be accessible to people who don’t speak their languages. This is not an argument for us offering pages in French, German, Italian or whatever. English is widely understood and any applicant to Leeds would be expected to be able to read English. We have considered putting up pages in key languages for the benefit of parents in communities with a poor knowledge of English but who would like their offspring to be educated overseas. In an ideal world we’d love the site to feature a rainbow of languages and be as friendly as possible, but, as ever, it comes down to resources and priorities. If volunteers would like to offer their services, please contact Richard Ashby on ext 34976.

Closing the cafe (Katie Wales, English) – Regular patrons of Blackwell’s café on Blenheim Terrace will probably be as distressed as I was to discover that it will be closing forthwith on Friday 25 May to provide more book space. The MD in Oxford who made the decision is obviously completely unaware of its pleasing ambience, its good food and coffee, its obliging staff, its ideal location on the doorstep of one of the biggest universities in the country and its popularity as a meeting-place for staff and students alike. Above all, he (for it is a he) seems to be unaware of the truthfulness in marketing terms of the slogan once used to advertise the Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘an excellent café with a museum attached’. Many patrons of the café must have bought books on their visit, who would probably have not gone to the bookshop otherwise. One form of protest might be to boycott the bookshop altogether; or to write directly to the MD Dominic Myers c/o 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BQ.

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