News in brief

April 30, 2009

Business collaborations

Joint benefits explained

A new study will aim to develop a "deeper understanding" of why companies collaborate with universities. Sponsored by the research councils, the Council for Industry and Higher Education will examine the motives for and expected benefits of collaboration. The study will conduct interviews with about 20 companies involved in collaborations, ranging from big global firms to small UK enterprises.

AHRC board of advisers

Feels like the first time

A board of academics and research users appointed to advise the Arts and Humanities Research Council on strategies and challenges has met for the first time. The advisory board, which is chaired by Ellen Douglas-Cowie, a professor at Queen's University Belfast, replaces a series of previous committees. Members of the board sit as individuals and do not represent their discipline. They will help shape priorities and programmes for the AHRC, advise on the health of the UK's arts and humanities research base and act as a "quality assurance body" for the council's Peer Review College.

CBI task force

End in sight, but not consensus

A higher education task force set up by the Confederation of British Industry has yet to draw any conclusions, even though it will wind up in less than two months. The task force, which brings together vice-chancellors and senior business figures, was formed last year to discuss such issues as how to fund higher education and ensure that graduates are employable. Among its members are Gordon Frazer, UK managing director of Microsoft, and Graham Love, chief executive of the defence company QinetiQ. However, with just two meetings to go before the committee publishes its final report, it has yet to reach any firm conclusions or decide on the recommendations it will make. Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath and a member of the task force, said: "Recommendations aren't finalised. There is still a lot of debate about what they should be ... This committee is absolutely stacked with high-powered executives. They have strong views and are willing to challenge any assumption that comes along. They want proof and want to go into things in great detail." The task force is due to publish its report at the end of June.

Oxford Brookes University

Decision to halt student quashed

A student has won a judicial review of the decision by Oxford Brookes University to prevent her completing a degree in midwifery. Jennifer McKoy was removed in 2006 for failing three modules, two of which were practice based. The university's undergraduate regulations state that "no practice-based module may be taken more than twice, and a student may take no more than two such modules twice". Managers took this to mean that a student who failed two practice-based modules had to withdraw. Ms McKoy argued that it meant she could retake up to two practice-based modules. The High Court agreed with her and overturned the university's decision.


In a picture caption last week ("Back to their roots", 23 April), we referred erroneously to "Sam Pilgrim" leading a project helping indigenous communities to develop revitalisation schemes. The project is led by Sarah Pilgrim, who is based in the department of biological sciences at the University of Essex, not the department of sociology.

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