For the record

December 7, 2001

Hefce still unsure how to handle RAE results
Funding chiefs are still pondering when and how to implement the results of the research assessment exercise, which will be published next week.

Members of the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England said the initial proposals to delay implementation were not fully prepared. Hefce officials are still working on the proposals, which will go before the board on December 14.

In her annual letter to Hefce, education secretary Estelle Morris said: "I know the council is considering how to implement the outcome of the research assessment exercise in distributing funding for research in 2002-03. I recognise the council will want to continue to fund adequately the best research."

Institute lecturers ballot on strike action   
Lecturers at Southampton Institute are balloting on strike action in protest against plans to cut 50 staff, 22 of them academics, in a bid to save £6.8 million over two years.
The institute has been in deficit for two years. Lecturers' union Natfhe has said principal Roger Brown created the situation because he over-estimated student numbers last year and had to return about £500,000 to the funding council.

Wellcome donation gains Crick archive 
The Wellcome Trust has acquired the entire archive of the work of Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA with James Watson in 1953. The trust contributed £904,000 to keep the papers in the UK in a partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

LJMU blameless in hate campaign, tribunal says    
A Jewish lecturer who was subjected to a hate campaign that culminated in the controlled explosion of a suspect package by a bomb disposal unit was not discriminated against by Liverpool John Moores University, a tribunal has found unanimously. When Oliver Leaman complained about threatening letters and phone calls, which led to the explosion of a suspect package, the university did all it could to help. It got a scanning device for his mail, installed a covert camera directed at his office door and increased security.

The tribunal ruled that Mr Leaman had not been constructively dismissed.

State-school rise at Cambridge    
The proportion of state-school students accepted to Cambridge University this year rose by one percentage point to 53 per cent. The proportion from independent schools fell by a point to 47 per cent. Some 90 per cent of all accepted Cambridge students achieved three grade As at A level, compared with 11 per cent across the sector.

Universities Scotland rebuked in parliament
Universities Scotland has been reproved in the Scottish Parliament's enterprise and lifelong learning committee for allegedly making an "anonymous, personal attack" on Tory MSP David Mundell, who had criticised its submission for arrogance.

The THES quoted Universities Scotland's spokesperson expressing disappointment that Mr Mundell "felt he had to talk down the sector's achievements". Committee convenor Alex Neil said the ELLC was doing its job in scrutinising organisations' spending of public money and would not tolerate personal attacks on members who questioned witnesses robustly.

Universities Scotland did not object to robust questioning and had not made a personal attack, said its director, David Caldwell. "But we think it legitimate to comment on things people have said," he said.

Board to standardise postgrad medicine
The government said this week that it is setting up a Medical Education Standards Board to bring more consistency to postgraduate medical education.

Health minister John Hutton said: "Our proposals mean that we can resolve one of the most significant problems with postgraduate medical education in the UK: the parallel lines of management that continue to separate the National Health Service, deaneries and Royal Colleges."

Group calls for fund for health research
A seven-year development fund should be set up to support nursing and other health professions' research, a task group set up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department of Health has reported.

The group argues that underfunding is "dangerous" and that only properly funded research will ensure best practice. But the funding council moved to squash immediate hopes of more funding until after the research assessment exercise results and the funding allocation by the Treasury.

Centre seeks to aid longitudinal studies
A centre for improving the delivery of longitudinal studies has been opened by the National Centre for Social Research, the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the Institute of Education and the International Centre for Health and Society at University College Medical School.

Millport secures future with £2 million funding
The University Marine Biological Station, Millport, believes its future is secure after receiving more than £2 million in funds.

The teaching and research station, on the Isle of Cumbrae off Scotland's west coast, has signed contracts to build a research vessel worth more than £1.5 million, and found funds for a new decompression chamber and an equipment upgrade. 

UCL Israeli studies centre opens doors 
University College London this week formally inaugurated its centre for Israeli studies. It will address the "information deficit" regarding Israel, providing information to politicians, the press and the public. It will have wide-ranging interests" but will focus on the peace programme, provost Sir Christopher Llewellyn-Smith said.

Resource projects win £5 million from AHRB
The Arts and Humanities Research Board has awarded more than £5 million to improve access to research resources.

The 29 winning projects include a hub for science fiction studies at Liverpool University, a Celtic coin index at Oxford University and a catalogue of the archives of the Trades Union Congress at Warwick University.

Westminster set for Nigerian partnership
The University of Westminster has signed a £4 million partnership with the oil-producing state of Delta in southeastern Nigeria to provide staffing and technical assistance to set up three polytechnics and a sports college.

Abra-cadaver! A chance to learn disappears
Dundee University Medical School has been forced to suspend its post-mortem examination teaching because relatives are reluctant to give permission for hospital autopsies since the Alder Hey organ scandal.

Stewart Fleming, professor of cellular and molecular pathology at Dundee, said: "The number of autopsies per year has dropped by 20 to 25 per cent in the past three years. Unless the situation changes, this will seriously damage medical education."

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