News in brief – 4 June 2015

UK higher education round-up and highlights from the Twittersphere

June 4, 2015
Chainsaw cutting tree branch

European Union research funding

Cuts: they could have been worse

Planned cuts to the European Union’s research budget have been reduced by €500 million (£357 million) after pressure from scientists, university leaders and MEPs. Under an agreement published on 28 May, €2.2 billion will be taken from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme to help to set up a new European Fund for Strategic Investment for jobs creation, rather than the €2.7 billion originally proposed. The deal followed all-night negotiations in Brussels in which funding for the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, an early career researcher fellowship scheme, was ring-fenced. The original plans would have brought a 3 per cent cut to EU grants, a pot from which the UK is predicted to receive about £2 billion in the next two years. This would have come on top of a 7 per cent cut in like-for-like research funding under Horizon 2020 compared with the previous six-year framework, university leaders said. In April, some 50 UK university leaders travelled to Brussels to lobby against the proposals in the largest-ever overseas delegation of vice-chancellors.

Academic publishing

UCL unveils open access press

The UK’s first fully open access university press is due to be launched on 4 June. UCL Press, University College London’s in-house publishing arm, will focus mainly on monographs, textbooks and journals. The press, whose creation was announced 18 months ago, will be open to authors both within and beyond UCL, although its three inaugural titles are all by UCL academics. Paul Ayris, director of library services and chief executive of UCL Press, said: “UCL has been at the forefront of promoting open access. The launch of UCL Press is the next step in our commitment to making academic work as accessible as possible.”

University-industry collaboration

Friends and where to find them

Six interactive maps showing small to medium-sized enterprises across England have been published with the aim of helping universities and colleges identify collaboration opportunities. Commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the maps show the size, industry sector distribution and characteristics of SMEs. Madeleine Atkins, Hefce’s chief executive, said the organisation is keen “to ensure that the knowledge, assets and expertise of our world-leading universities and colleges make a real difference…to students, but also to businesses, public services and citizens”. The maps “will form part of our extensive programme of work with Universities UK to support universities and local stakeholders in furthering the government’s ‘place-making’ agenda,” she said.

AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinkers

Ten to address the nation

Young experts in everything from wartime France to the theme of the widow in British literature have been chosen as this year’s New Generation Thinkers. Launched in November 2010 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and BBC Radio 3, the scheme recognises early career academics who are passionate about communicating research to a wider audience. The 10 winners will spend a year working with BBC staff to develop ideas for broadcast. They are taking part in Radio 3’s arts and ideas programme, Free Thinking, on successive editions from 28 May, and will have the chance to make short programmes for BBC Arts Online.

THE digital editions

Following changes to the Times Higher Education website last week, our digital editions were temporarily unavailable. We would like to apologise to readers for this problem.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Last week’s Times Higher Education feature on the relationship between academics and administrators was always likely to stoke the fires of debate. While some, like reader @jenthornt, believe the two tribes are “not polar opposites”, others took a different position. “ ‘Visit them in their offices’ Hello? Hello? Anyone seen prof. waffletop this month?” wrote @Charlesknight in response to tips for administrators looking to build trust between themselves and academics. Elsewhere, @c_hallas wondered why this is still an issue. “I thought we’d moved on from this old-tired-stale debate,” he tweeted.

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