Congregation pass historic vote of no confidence in Willetts

first_imgShe said, “I fully support the student movement against what the government is doing. I am very pleased and still surprised that there were even five people in this room who found it in their hearts to vote against the motion. ‘I think we need to be realistic about the impact that this kind of move will have – we must not to sit on our laurels and think this will be enough. We need more lobbying either through unions, collaborations, academic and student development to show that this is not good enough. The damage done if this goes ahead is irreparable.“I have never come to Congregation before, other academics here also do not come regularly. This is a really busy time of year for us all and it is hard for people to drop commitments. But we have come for this, which shows how much we care.”The motion was formally moved by Professor Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History. Prof Gildea said, “This is a very weighty business, a step of historic action. Higher education policies that he is proposing are the word of the coalition government as a whole. In this unprecedented way we are calling him to account. The future of higher education as we have known it since the second world war is under threat from government policies which are reckless, incoherent and incompetent.”The motion was seconded by Dr Karma Nabulsi, University Lecturer in International Relations and a Fellow at St Edmund Hall, who spoke of what Congregation members had in common:“What we share is a common attachment to the purpose of higher education which is now under grave threat. [A vote of no confidence] is the most professional gesture which we can take. Our vision is threatened by the policies of the current gov. A vote for this motion is an affirmation of who we are and the traditions which we wish to preserve.’The debate was then open to the house, and a further 21 academics spoke in favour of the motion, as well as OUSU President David Barclay. After a break in procedings, the final few speeches were then given. Dr Conrad Leyser invoked the history of discussion and debate on the topic of the price of education: beginning with Socratic debates of wisdom, and moving forward to the debates of Irish scholars and the foundation for learning in Latin Europe. “We are subverting the basis on which wisdom has been built upon for centuries, if not millennia”, he said.Professor Patrick McGuinness said, “Politicians seem bent on destroying higher education. This government might be a coalition of Lib Dems and Conservative. But no government in the last twenty years has been a friend to higher education. ‘By expressing our lack of confidence in this government we can actually change something of the policies which will be fisted upon us. We all fundamentally realise that this government does not know what its doing.”Finally, Professor Gildea, who had proposed the motion at the start of Congregation, then gave his response to the debate, with a final few words of encouragement for academics to vote for the motion: “This is a historic moment to make a difference, let us seize it.”Dr Kate Tunstall, who gave the closing speech in Congregation, said after to Cherwell, “I think this university has overwhelmingly no confidence in the government’s higher education policies – not in this particular minister as there are probably just as many more with similar policies waiting in  the wings. The message is really really clear.“The way students and tutors worked together to make this vote possible is really encouraging –  I think it is appropriate now for students to have membership in Congregation as they do in Cambridge.”Beth Evans, a member of Oxford Education Campaign who had been leading the solidarity protests outside, said, “I’m really pleased and I hope this will make a really strong statement to the government.” Professor Howard Hotson noted that “Current government policy is perverse. Such fundamental misconceptions inspire no confidence whatsoever.”Senior Proctor, Dr Colin Thompson warned, “We are not here to bask in the spirit of rhetoric. We are here to address the government on issues which are our very raison d’etre, in the hope that it will listen.“Society needs people who are prepared to ask awkward questions and challenge received ideas or it stagnates. Loss of public funding to arts and social studies is the logical conclusion of the flawed economic premise of government economic policy.”Dr Paul Coones joked, “There are only two kinds of famous academic – the quick and the dead.” He highlighted that Oxford should be proactive and set the agenda, rather than always be “responding, justifying and defending ourselves.”Many speakers warned of the dangers of putting a price on education. Dr Laura Kirkley said, “Brilliant minds hail from all sections of society. We must be able to select post graduates of the quality of their minds, not the quantity of their bank accounts. If the proposed reforms go ahead without challenge or protest from us, the result will be whole portions of our populations disenfranchised and priced out of higher education.”Mr Bernard Sufrin opened his speech with the Marxist allusion, “A spectre is haunting our university system – the spectre of private profit.”The disastrous effects the government’s policies were having on Oxford’s reputation abroad were discussed by Dr Abdel Razzaq Takriti. Next OUSU President David Barclay spoke, powerfully damning the government’s policies on behalf of the student body. “The fundamental lack of confidence for the student body stems from a gut sense that the core of the governmnet’s plan is rotten.‘The people I speak for will feel the real cost of the mixed messages and U-turn. I speak for a generation of brilliant minds who will never become graduates. I speak for a generation of talented but disadvantaged students who will never be able to come to Oxford. I speak for all these people and today I need you to speak to them too.” The vote of no confidence in Universities Minister David Willetts was passed today by Congregation, with an overwhelming majority of 283 votes for and just five against.Today’s near unanimous vote shows the start of an academic backlash against coalition policy in higher education. It is the first time since 1985 that Oxford has got involved so publicly in the political process, and marks Oxford as the first English University to pass a motion of no confidence in a higher education minister. The motion, that “Congregation instructs council to communicate to the government that the university has no confidence in the policies of the Minister of Higher Education” was debated by Oxford academics this afternoon in the Sheldonian Theatre before the vote was taken. Each of the 23 academics who spoke before the University’s parliament, resoundingly endorsed the motion urging their fellow academics to vote in favour, leaving little doubt that the motion would be carried.Students showed their support outside the Sheldonian by cheering tutors as they walked in and chanting slogans such as, ‘David Willetts makes no sense, tutors vote no confidence’. Throughout the day, OUSU had organised for students to rally academics to attend Congregation and place their vote of no confidence in Willetts. Standing outside the Sheldonian after the Congregation meeting had finished, OUSU President David Barclay said to Cherwell, “This is really important and exciting day for higher education. This is the first university ever to pass a motion of no confidence in a minister. Now that we have taken a stand, we can create a momentum for the rest of the country to follow.” %%VIDEO%%http://blip.tv/play/gTOCwYY0AA%%Just after the results of the motion were announced, Anna Lori-Wainwright, University Lecturer in Human Geography of China, who had voted in favour of the motion spoke to Cherwell.last_img read more

Pirelli agrees £600m longevity swap deal with Zurich

first_imgThe hedges, one for each of the two schemes*, were structured as “whole of life” insurance policies and are “named life”, which means that they cover named pensioners and contingent dependants. This is in contrast to index-based swaps that track a general UK population.The deals agreed with Zurich cover £600m of pensioner liabilities. Zurich retained 25% of the longevity risk, with the remainder reinsured with Pacific Life Re. A spokesperson for Zurich told IPE that the deals with Pirelli are the first time that Zurich has retained part of the longevity risk. “In the first transaction we completed in December, we passed on all the longevity risk to Pacific Life Re,” he said. According to those involved in the transactions, the transactions are noteworthy because they show that managing longevity risk via longevity swaps is also an option for smaller and medium-sized pension schemes.Andy Stewart, head of client solutions at Cardano and adviser to the Pirelli schemes, said: “Historically, named-life longevity swaps were only available to very large pension schemes but recent product development by providers such as Zurich means that small to medium sized schemes can now also access these solutions.”In 2015, Zurich and Mercer developed a pre-negotiated standard longevity contract, with a panel of reinsurers providing pricing. Those involved in the transaction said this “streamlines” the de-risking process for smaller and medium-sized UK DB pension schemes.Simon Foster, global head of Zurich International Corporate Solutions, said: “This transaction shows how two pension schemes can be grouped together to provide scale and therefore obtain more attractive pricing terms.”Tony Goddard, pensions manager at Pirelli, said that the longevity swaps add to steps the schemes have been taking to manage other risks within the pension funds.“We are pleased to continue this process with these transactions and to seize the early opportunity to hedge longevity risk,” he said.“The streamlined features of this longevity swap make this a cost-effective solution for the funds, with features such as no collateral requirements and transparent insurer and reinsurer pricing being particularly attractive,” he added.The Pirelli swaps are the second and third named-life longevity hedges to have been completed for smaller UK DB schemes using the approach developed by Mercer and Zurich.As at 30 June 2016 the present value of Pirelli’s funded UK pension liabilties were €1.26bn, according to Pirelli’s half-year report. In December 2015, Zurich carried out a £90m streamlined longevity swap with an undisclosed UK pension plan.The Electricity Supply Pension Scheme (EPSP), a £32bn industry-wide pension scheme, recently reported having hedged part of its longevity risk, with one of its sponsors agreeing a £1bn deal with Abbey Life.*Pirelli General Pension and Life Assurance Fund, and Pirelli Tyres Limited 1988 Pension and Life Assurance Fund The main UK defined benefit (DB) pension schemes of the Italian tyre company Pirelli Group have completed longevity swaps worth £600m (€707m), insuring the risk with Zurich Assurance Limited.The transactions are seen as a sign that the longevity swap market for smaller UK pension schemes is opening up, having previously been the preserve of bigger schemes.The transactions are understood to have been finalised in early August.Cardano and Mercer were investment and transaction advisors to the trustees of the pension schemes, respectively.last_img read more

ADBP Publishes Paper on Dredging Cost Standards

first_imgImage source: ADBPThe financial costs associated with dredging activity are highly variable, depending on the plant being employed and the type of dredging being undertaken, Anthony D Bates Partnership (ADBP) reports. Since 2005, the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), has published the book ‘Cost standards for dredging equipment’.The guide presents the primary capital values and costs associated with a range of dredging plant, based on their specification. This publication is commonly used throughout the industry for a range of studies including CAPEX estimation, cost allocation between dredging contractors in joint venture and most prominently in disputes, where cost estimation is required to be undertaken.Due to the high capital cost and subsequent value of dredging plant, the accurate calculation of the respective depreciation and interest is fundamental to the build-up of the estimated daily operating plant rates. Ongoing maintenance and repair of the plant also forms a primary cost.The CIRIA publication details these items for a variety of dredging plant. It does not provide detail on other operational costs such as labour, insurance, fuel, wear and tear, overheads and profit/risk.According to the document, these must be derived from further calculations to ascertain the total cost of leasing the dredging plant, commonly known as the daywork rate.The paper was presented by Leigh Holmes at the CEDA Dredging Days conference in Rotterdam on the 7th of November and was well-received – promoting constructive discussion amongst CIRIA Dredging Cost Standard book users across the dredging industry.last_img read more

Mane expects Liverpool to end unexpected slump

first_imgThe absence of injured Jordan Henderson has robbed Liverpool of the midfielder’s energy and leadership, in turn leaving the Reds defence more exposed to the kind of counter-attacks that led to goals for Watford’s Ismaila Sarr and Chelsea’s Ross Barkley.“It’s little things, but little things make the difference,” Klopp said.“The boys are strong, they have showed a wonderful reaction so many times, and now we have to show that again.”At Old Trafford, Manchester United badly need a third derby win against Manchester City this season as they battle to qualify for the Champions League.Fifth-placed United are three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who host Everton on Sunday.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team stumbled when a blunder from keeper David De Gea forced them to settle for a draw at Everton last weekend.City, in contrast, are on a high after beating Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 first leg, then retaining the League Cup against Aston Villa on Sunday and advancing to the FA Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.United have defeated City twice already, but were beaten by them at Old Trafford in the League Cup semi-finals.“It’s better to go there winning games, being in the FA cup than being out. We’re going to go there to try to win,” said City manager Pep Guardiola, who could be without the influential Kevin De Bruyne due to a shoulder injury.Tottenham, in seventh place, travel to Burnley hoping the fall-out from Eric Dier’s astonishing row with a fan in the stands after their FA Cup loss to Norwich does not prove a damaging distraction to an increasingly troubled campaign.Fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated)SaturdayLiverpool v Bournemouth (1230), Arsenal v West Ham, Crystal Palace v Watford, Sheffield United v Norwich, Southampton v Newcastle, Wolves v Brighton, Burnley v Tottenham (1730)SundayChelsea v Everton (1400), Manchester United v Manchester City (1630)MondayLeicester v Aston Villa (2000)Share on: WhatsApp London, United Kingdom | AFP | Sadio Mane has urged Liverpool to use the worst week of their season as fuel to power the Premier League leaders a step closer to the title when they face Bournemouth on Saturday.Jurgen Klopp’s side crashed to a stunning 3-0 defeat against struggling Watford last weekend that ended their hopes of going unbeaten through the entire league campaign.The Reds’ limp display at Vicarage Road was followed by another underwhelming effort on Tuesday as Chelsea knocked them out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 fifth round victory.Klopp was willing to sacrifice the FA Cup to rest several of his players, even if it prolonged Liverpool’s slump.Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker were among the stars missing from the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge.Whether that proves a wise gamble will become clearer over the course of the next week.With Liverpool’s 1-0 Champions League last 16 first leg loss at Atletico Madrid having triggered this unexpected dip, the European champions have now endured three defeats from their last four games in all competitions.Even their lone win in that sequence was hardly convincing as they needed a blunder from West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski to spark a come from behind 3-2 success.Liverpool have been so dominant in the league — winning 18 successive games before the Watford debacle — that it is understandable if they have lost a little intensity with the title almost in their grasp.They are 22 points clear of second-placed Manchester City and need just four more wins to end their 30-year wait to be crowned kings of English football.Atletico are due at Anfield for the decisive second leg on Wednesday, but Liverpool winger Mane knows it is important to get back on track domestically before turning to their defence of the Champions League.“We have another important game on Saturday and then on Wednesday, so we will be ready and we will be back again,” Mane said.“This can happen in football and we are used to it.“We just have to keep working hard and keep going if we want to be great champions.”– ‘It’s little things’ –Third-bottom Bournemouth are desperate for the points as they battle to avoid relegation.They will look to exploit a suddenly leaky Liverpool defence that has conceded seven goals in their last three games.last_img read more

Broward County officials investigate the death of a two-month-old

first_imgOfficials in Broward County are currently investigating the death of a two-month-old infant.According to the report, the infant was found unresponsive at a home in West Lake Thursday afternoon.He was then taken to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood where he was later pronounced dead.Information surrounding the infant’s death has not been released at this time, however, officials did report that there were several other children being cared for in the home at the time of the death.Officials also reported that those children have since been released to their own families.last_img read more