For the record

November 2, 2001

Half RAE returned staff in top-rated fields 
Half the staff who were returned in this year's research assessment exercise work in subject areas expected to gain the top 5 and 5* grades, according to funding chiefs.

A separate study that examined the increase in the number of citations of British papers since the 1996 exercise, led by Jonathan Adams of data analysis company Evidence, has found a 15 per cent leap in certain units of assessment. The initial results of the exercise will be presented next week to the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Lecturers' risk two years for giving advice 
Academics could face jail for giving advice to students who are asylum seekers, a lecturer warned the Scottish Further and Higher Education Association's annual conference.

Ali Liaquat, racial equality adviser at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, said that anyone who offered immigration advice in contravention of the law could face up to two years' imprisonment or a fine.

Delegates unanimously called on the Scottish Further Education Funding Council to give colleges clear guidelines on handling such inquiries.

Heaney opens Ulster's cultural academy 
Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney this week opened Ulster University's £3 million academy for Irish cultural heritages.

The centre is funded under a public-private partnership programme set up by Northern Ireland's department for employment and learning. The investment has funded eight senior posts, including three professorships. A further three posts will be filled by the end of 2001.

NUS wants sub-degree diplomas for students   
The National Union of Students Scotland wants higher education institutions to award sub-degree qualifications, enabling students who leave before the third year to gain a certificate or diploma of higher education.

The union this week gave evidence to the Scottish parliament's enterprise and lifelong learning committee. It urged the parliament to appoint a further and higher education ombudsman.

Academic books fall in price   
The average price of UK academic books fell by almost 10 per cent this year, the first significant fall for many years, according to the Library and Information Statistics Unit at Loughborough University. The largest price increase was in music books (57 per cent). The largest fall was in social service ( per cent).

Government to reform work permits system    
The government is to reform the system of work permits, making it easier for overseas students to work in the United Kingdom after graduation.

Clive Saville, chief executive of the Council for International Education, formerly Ukcosa, said: "We have been campaigning for this for some time. At the moment, those wishing to stay on... have had to go home first and apply for a work permit."

'More money' needed to hit social-work target   
The government's drive to get 5,000 more students on social-work courses in three years will fail unless more money is put into work placements, according to Joan Orme, professor of social work at Glasgow University and chair of the joint university council social work and education committee.

Donaldson revises welcome to medics
The chief medical officer has written to all new medical students welcoming them to a career in medicine.

In June this year, medical heads refused to send a letter from health secretary Alan Milburn to students, on the grounds that it expressed the hope that students would work in the National Health Service and was seen as too political.

Instead, Liam Donaldson writes: "For many of you, your practice will be in the NHS." He acknowledges underfunding, adding that the NHS is the fastest growing health service of any major European country.

'Link apprenticeships with higher education'   
Modern apprenticeships should give young people qualifications that link with higher education courses, according to a report.

The report by the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee also says that the Learning and Skills Council should establish a national framework for the apprenticeships.

Ulster adapts nurse course for biowar 
The University of Ulster has changed its masters degree in disaster relief nursing to equip nurses to cope with the effects of chemical and biological warfare.

The course is run jointly with the University of Rochester in New York state and will be taught simultaneously using Ulster's e-learning facilities.

SFEFC develops early alarm for college strife   
The Scottish Further Education Funding Council is to develop "early warning" signals to help detect difficulties in colleges.

The council's corporate plan for 2001-04 has been revised in the wake of ministerial guidance and feedback from staff, students and employers. Audit Scotland yesterday said that colleges must improve their financial management.

'Narrow' architecture course is shaken up   
Architecture students are to learn about marketing and how to secure bank loans in the first shakeup of the syllabus for 30 years. Following complaints from students and industry that the course was too narrow, the Royal Institute of British Architects has changed its requirements.

The new course will be more internationally focused and will provide students with practical business and management skills.

Vodka threatens Geordie spirit... almost   
The Gazza-style Geordie night out is under threat, research has found. Newcastle's independent pubs and nightclubs are losing out to an invasion of expensive "style bars". Pints of lager and luminous Ben Sherman shirts are being ditched in favour of foreign vodkas and designer clothes.

Paul Chatterton, from Newcastle University's centre for urban and regional development studies, said: "The city and region are moving rapidly away from connections with their industrial past. What place is there for Geordie drinking culture and the traditional 'boozer' within these changes?"

But all is not lost. The researchers say that problems such as excessive drinking and violence are unlikely to disappear.





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