For the record

April 6, 2001

IT is the student's favourite
A quarter of undergraduates want to work in IT or the internet - but less than 1 per cent want a career in education. When website asked 10,000 students "which sector would you most like to work in?" 24.6 per cent chose IT and the internet, 14.2 per cent merketing, advertising and media, and 0.3 per cent education.

Call for rethink on new A levels after failures
College chiefs have called for a rapid review of "vocational A levels" after up to 90 per cent of students failed the first set of assessments. Vocational A levels were introduced last September and were heralded by education secretary David Blunkett as a key step on a vocational ladder leading up to new foundation degrees.

More than half of 100,000 students taking vocational A levels sat the first set of exploratory tests in schools and colleges in January. The results were a significant setback, with 90 per cent of students taking business and leisure vocational A levels and 75 per cent in information technology and art and design failing.

The Association of Colleges this week called for examination bodies and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to act quickly to identify the problems that led to such poor results.

Charities left to fund science, says Wellcome
Wellcome Trust director Mike Dexter has attacked government core science funding policy, saying charities have been forced to pick up the bill as a substitute for adequate state funding.

He added that several universities were on the brink of bankruptcy because increases in project funding had not been balanced with increases in funding council budgets for staff salaries and building maintenance.

"The medical research charities were not established to invest in equipment or bricks and mortar," Dr Dexter said. "Charitable givers will, rightly, not tolerate their gift being spent on things that are clearly the responsibility of the state."

Ideas invited on how to spend £140 million
Consultation on how £140 million of government money might best be spent to harness university research for commercial exploitation was launched today.

The three-year Higher Education Innovation Fund will incorporate the existing Higher Education Reach Out to Business and the Community Fund.

The fund was launched jointly by the Department for Trade and Industry and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

On Wednesday, bids were invited for an additional £40 million of seed funding for products in early stages of development and to promote the commercial exploitation of scientific research in universities and public sector laboratories.

Rise in staffing urged to match medic intake
Universities UK and the Council of Heads of Medical Schools have welcomed the 1,000 new medical school places announced last week, but warn that the expansion will be successful only if universities can recruit more staff, as well as retaining those already employed to teach, research and provide services to the National Health Service.

Robert Boyd, chairman of the CHMS, said: "The resources promised bode well, but this expansion will only be successful if the resources allow the universities to recruit the best scientific and medical brains to lead and teach the next generation."

LSE launches drive to raise £100 million
The London School of Economics is launching its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, with a target of £100 million.

The Campaign for LSE is designed to ensure the school's position as a world-class social science institution and will run in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The funds being sought, which include endowments, will go towards campus refurbishments, student scholarships and supporting research.

NHS psychologists to be included in RAE
Clinical psychology will be more fairly treated in this year's research assessment exercise. Staff who are employed by the National Health Service in English institutions will count as researchers in the psychology unit of assessment, funding chiefs announced this week.

The decision brings psychology into line with medicine and other professions allied to medicine.

OU and UfI link for online development
The Open University has signed a "memorandum of understanding" with the University for Industry.

The two institutions will work closely on "areas of common interest", such as the development of online learning and information and guidance for learners. But it is unlikely to mean joint OU-UfI courses in the short term.

Rise in applicants to teaching profession
Applications for places on secondary Postgraduate Certificate of Education courses have climbed by a quarter compared with this time last year.

New statistics from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry show good results for most shortage subjects. Maths applications are up 18 per cent, chemistry is up nearly 50 per cent and Spanish shows a leap of nearly 80 per cent. But the biggest increase is in applications to teach information technology, up 126 per cent.

Education secretary David Blunkett said the statistics were evidence that the government's teacher recruitment strategy was working.

Anguish of students forced to share digs
Students who share houses may be exposing themselves to high levels of stress, according to new research.

A study by building society Abbey National found that nearly a quarter of young sharers were so traumatised by the experience that they went out of their way to avoid former housemates.

More than half said sharing a house with people other than a partner or family had been a stressful experience. Common gripes were dirty kitchens or bathrooms, food pilfering and smelly flatmates.


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