News in brief

January 24, 2013

Open-access publishing

Commons inquiry to weigh Finch

A second parliamentary inquiry into the UK’s open-access policy has been announced. The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee announced on 18 January that the issues its inquiry will address include the government’s acceptance of the Finch group’s report, the cost of article fees, the adoption of “gold” open access around the world and the use of Creative Commons “CC-BY” licences. Submissions of written evidence should be sent to biscommem@parliament.uk by 7 February. Last week, the first hearing of the Lords Science and Technology Committee’s own inquiry into open access heard from Dame Janet Finch, the Finch group chair, who said the UK’s move to open access would put some learned societies’ journals in financial jeopardy.

Student admission controls

They’re thinking of a number

The funding council for England’s universities has written to all institutions telling them of their provisional student number control allocations for 2013-14. However, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has not made public the allocations, which remain subject to appeal. The final allocations will be published as part of Hefce’s recurrent grant announcement on 21 March. The plan was for institutions to be subject to reductions or increases in next year’s student number allocations based on patterns of student demand in 2012-13. However, Hefce said last month that universities falling short of their core student number allocations this year will not have their allocations cut in the next unless the shortfalls are “extreme”, recognising that owing to “transient effects from the introduction of the new fee regime, 2012-13 might be an atypical year for recruitment”.

Olympic legacy

Faster, higher, stronger … further

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has commissioned Podium, the Further and Higher Education Unit for the London 2012 Olympic Games, to help universities and colleges make their expertise available for other major events. Around 94 per cent of the UK’s higher education sector was involved in at least one Olympic-related project, including the provision of student volunteers, playing host to national teams and undertaking relevant research. Podium will use Hefce funding to make a comprehensive record of the expertise developed in these projects and to help maximise the opportunities available to higher education institutions to engage with organisers of forthcoming events, including the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Times Higher awards

And the nominees are …

The 2013 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards - affectionately known as the “Thelmas” - are open for entries. The annual awards celebrate the work of university managers and administrators from across the UK. There are 15 categories this year, covering everything from finance and marketing to student services and procurement. A new Outstanding Leadership and Management team will also be crowned. Universities have until 10 March to enter, with the ceremony taking place on 20 June at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The awards will raise money for IntoUniversity, a charity that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in obtaining a place at university. For details on how to enter, visit www.thelmawards.co.uk.

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Immigration minister Mark Harper’s rejection of calls by universities to remove students from net migration figures prompted discussion. Jim said the government was swayed by “the ‘we do not want foreigners here hysteria’ that surrounds immigration”. It is “fear of losing elections, nothing else” that drives immigration policy, he added. Max disagreed. “There are reportedly over 800,000 illegal immigrants in London, and given the post-92s we have in London which are (a) soft touch to these non-EU students … quite a number of them will be non-EU student dropouts,” he said.

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