Warwick ratchets up research drive

September 21, 2007

Warwick University has unveiled plans to double its number of postgraduate research students, with more than 1,000 new places, and to attract more star researchers as part of a "critical push" to join the world's elite institutions.

Nigel Thrift, Warwick's new vice-chancellor, said this week that the recruitment drive was necessary to achieve the goal of being ranked among the top 50 universities in the world in time for Warwick's 50th anniversary in 2015.

Warwick's managers have determined that the university will need to raise about an extra £200 million over the next eight years to meet the costs associated with this target, including the building of facilities and accommodation, financing studentships and fellowships and creating a recruitment pot to attract academic high flyers.

Professor Thrift said: "We have done the sums and shown that it is possible, but obviously it means there are all kinds of consequences," he said.

One consequence is that the university will need to expand "in a smart way" - this would mean appointing only the best staff and leaving posts vacant where this is not possible, he added. "We are not trying to make a commitment to taking on vast numbers of new staff - we are trying instead to concentrate on quality," Professor Thrift said.

In addition to the recent formation of an Institute for Advanced Studies, Warwick plans to develop three new large interdisciplinary research centres and to examine the case for setting up what could be the world's first "digital university press".

Warwick University has also launched a new International Gateway for Gifted Youth, just four months after shutting down its National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and making 29 academic staff compulsorily redundant.

The International Gateway, known as Iggy, aims to offer a "pioneering online learning experience" and provide face-to-face teaching for the brightest 5 per cent of 11 to 19-year-olds in the world, from spring next year.

The University and College Union said that the new venture calls into question the university's redundancy and redeployment policies.

Only 12 out of 40 former academy staff were redeployed within the university when it chose to close the high-profile Nagty.

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