For the record

November 23, 2001

12 centres to focus on innovation for industry
Science minister Lord Sainsbury will launch 12 new research centres in a £120 million collaboration between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, industry and funding agencies next week.

The innovative manufacturing research centres will be based at universities and are intended to get research "out of the labs and into the factories" in order to boost British manufacturing.

The centres will look at a range of areas, from laser processing and e-manufacturing to healthcare and transport. They will be based at the universities of Cambridge, Liverpool - with two centres each - Loughborough, Salford, Reading, Warwick, Nottingham, Bath, Cranfield and University College London.

Scots universities are 'arrogant', says MSP 
Conservative MSP David Mundell has accused Scottish universities of apparent "arrogance and inflexibility" in their dealings with other parts of the education system.
His attack came as Universities Scotland gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's enterprise and lifelong learning committee, highlighting the sector's successes despite financial pressures.

But Scottish Nationalist MSP Kenny MacAskill said Mr Mundell's attitude smacked of the Scottish "I-kent-your-faither" (I knew your father) syndrome of continually denigrating institutions or individuals who did well.

A spokesperson for Universities Scotland said: "We are disappointed that David Mundell feels he has to talk down the achievements of the higher education sector."

Chair of Scots funding council appointed 
Esther Roberton has been appointed chair of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council for the next four years. Ms Roberton has been interim chair since Robert Beattie's resignation as the SFEFC's first chairman on health grounds in May.

She was involved in the campaign for a Scottish Parliament and served on the all-party consultative steering group that developed the parliament's procedures.

Oxbridge dominates business   
Oxbridge still dominates the boardrooms. Of 15,000 company directors surveyed for The Sunday Times, per cent went to Oxford and per cent to Cambridge. Since the last survey four years ago, Leeds and Birmingham universities have been ousted from the top ten by the London Business School and Nottingham University.

£380m to keep UK at science's cutting edge 
Space science projects are to receive more than £380 million over the next decade as part of a government strategy to keep UK expertise ahead of the game.

The money will include £90 million for new communication satellite systems, £15 million towards environmental monitoring schemes and £147 million for the European Space Agency's living-planet programme.

Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, said last week that there would also be more than £130 million for astronomy and planetary science projects over four years.

Seven new humanities centres planned   
The Arts and Humanities Research Board has announced seven new research centres.

They range from a centre for surrealism and its legacies to a centre dedicated to intellectual property and technology law.

The AHRB received 100 applications to the scheme, which provides up to £875,000 over five years.

Challenge to AUT's candidate for top job    
The Association of University Teachers' official candidate for the general secretary's post, to be confirmed next week, is likely to be opposed by at least two candidates nominated by the AUT grassroots membership.

Durham University philosopher and AUT executive member Martin Hughes and John Duffy, a former member of the AUT executive from Birmingham University, plan to stand against the official candidate in December.

It is understood that there are two contenders for official candidate: Hilary De Lyon, chief executive of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, and Sally Hunt, an AUT assistant general secretary.

Minister backs student exchange programme   
Higher education minister Margaret Hodge has supported a Socrates Erasmus Council initiative to encourage more British students to study abroad. The council is concerned about the drop in numbers from 12,000 in 1994-95 to 10,000 in 1999-2000.

Ms Hodge said: "Young people should recognise that their employment opportunities will be increased if they have the skills that an Erasmus study period and a second language can offer."

300 homeless to get support for university   
Three hundred young homeless people are to be given the chance to go to university under a scheme run by the Department for Education and the Foyer Federation charity.

Each successful applicant will be given personal support plus £3,000 from the government's access and hardship funds.

Carolyn Hayman, chief executive of the Foyer Federation, said: "This group generally receives no financial support from parents. Some are already in debt as a consequence of past chaotic lifestyles. The aim of the new programme is to help them realise their educational potential and lift themselves out of the conditions." 

Foundation degree take-up disappoints   
Foundation degrees are proving less popular than hoped. 85 per cent of the places on 32 prototype programmes - 1,300 students - have been filled since recruiting began last spring.

The figure excludes recruitment to a further eight foundation degrees but these are also expected to have under-recruited.

Higher education minister Margaret Hodge will make a statement about foundation degrees on Tuesday.

Students turn down a year of free beer   
Leicester University students have turned down the offer of free beer for a year from the London Game Company.

The company markets Boku, a strategy game that has already reached cult status on other campuses and is a favourite at the annual Mind Sport Olympiad.

They offered Leicester students who were prepared to try the game free beer for a year. Company spokesman Eric Johnson, said: "We were astonished when not a single undergrad at Leicester took up the challenge."

A student union spokesman said it was "a misconception that students were completely motivated by beer". Lots of students, he added, were just too busy to go out drinking all the time.

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