For the record

December 21, 2001

Sainsbury touts UK's latest brain gains
Science minister Lord Sainsbury has announced the latest batch of scientists joining the brain gain into Britain.

The Institute of Ophthalmology, part of University College London, has recruited 26 researchers. They are part of a £30 million joint project with eye-research charity Fight for Sight working on treatment and prevention of eye disease and blindness.

Immunologist Santa Ono from Harvard University will take up a new chair at the institute funded by GlaxoSmithKline.

Building society boss to lead loans company
Building society boss Keith Bedell-Pearce has been named the new executive chairman of the Student Loans Company.
Mr Bedell-Pearce, who succeeds Sir Anthony Battishill, is currently non-executive chairman of the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society and will continue in that role.

Announcing his appointment on Wednesday, higher education minister Margaret Hodge said: "The Student Loans Company needs to retain quality leadership. It has many challenges ahead, including the modernisation of the student support system. I am confident Mr Bedell-Pearce will provide the leadership required."

Scotland's new chief science adviser named
Wilson Sibbett, professor of physics at St Andrews University, will be Scotland's first chief adviser on science.
Appointed by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Sibbett will chair the new Scottish Science Advisory Committee, a high-level panel created by the Scottish Executive earlier this year. The committee (yet to be appointed) will provide independent strategy advice and advise Scottish Executive ministers on scientific issues. Professor Sibbett chaired this year's physics research assessment panel and is a fellow of the Royal Society.

University and council to spur Cardiff growth
Cardiff University's regeneration institute has signed a partnership agreement with Rhondda Cynon Taff Council to act as a "critical friend" to the authority to help it stimulate economic and social development.
Focusing on improvements in housing, employment, education and health, the university will direct activity and advise on regeneration issues.

Oxford widens admissions 
Acceptances to Oxford University for pupils from maintained schools have risen to 53.2 per cent this year. A total of 9,548 pupils applied for October 2001 entry. The 35.8 per cent success rate for maintained-sector applicants for 2001 entry is still 2 percentage points below that of independent-school pupils.

Wellcome disappointed by Dome decision
The Wellcome Trust said it was disappointed to have failed in its bid to turn the Millennium Dome into a science park.
Stephen Byers, secretary of state for transport, local government and the regions, this week announced that the government had accepted the Meridian Delta bid to build a sports and entertainment venue at the dome.

The trust said that it had been talking to the government for several months about building a biomedical research park with a biotechnology cluster at the North Greenwich site. But it said it was not looking for another venue.

Extra for LSC's running costs condemned
College chiefs have condemned as "totally unnecessary" the government's decision to boost the Learning and Skills Council's budget by £30 million to cover administration costs. This followed a pledge from John Harwood, the LSC's chief executive, to cut bureaucracy costs by 25 per cent.
The Association of Colleges has pointed out that the LSC's running costs are now double the administration budget of the Further Education Funding Council, from which it took over in April. John Brennan, the AoC's director of further education development, said: "The AoC does not believe that administration of this size and level makes for effectiveness and efficiency."

Government gives science 11% boost 
The government has detailed its spending plans for science, engineering and technology up to 2003 in the Forward Look 2001 report, which outlines how funds allocated in the 2000 spending review will be spent.

Funds for science will rise 11 per cent in real terms, increasing from £6.85 billion in 2000-01 to £7.6 billion in 2003-04.

The report includes statements about the strategies and priorities of government departments, devolved administrations, research councils and funding councils.

Warwick leading list to host gifted academy
Warwick University is believed to be the front-runner in a shortlist of six institutions wanting to create a national academy for gifted children.
University sources have confirmed that Warwick, working with Oxford Brookes University as a junior partner, believes it has a good chance of success. But the Department for Education and Skills said negotiations were still under way and there would be no decision until the new year.

Electrical fault blamed for Antarctic lab fire
An electrical fault has been identified as the most likely source of the fire at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station.
The BAS said it would cost £2 million plus the cost of equipment to rebuild the centre after the fire that destroyed the Bonner laboratory in early October.

A five-person team will begin repairing the lab's foundations in January, but the centre is not expected to be fully operational until late 2003. The BAS is trying to minimise disruption to research programmes.

Wann to take reins of Scottish council
David Wann, deputy chief executive and director of funding at the Scottish Funding Councils, will become acting chief executive when John Sizer leaves at the end of December.
Professor Sizer was the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council's founding chief executive in 1992, and he took on responsibility for the Scottish Further Education Funding Council when it was set up less than two years ago. His successor, Roger McClure, will take up his post on March 1.

Minders to help v-cs unlock money in minds
The government is hiring business minders for vice-chancellors to help universities exploit their store of knowledge and expertise.
Ministers will make £60,000 available next year for a pilot project providing senior business mentors to 25 current, new or prospective heads of universities and higher education colleges. The aim is to help institutions build stronger links with businesses and local communities.

The money includes a one-off sum of £42,000 to set up the infrastructure and to launch the scheme. The remainder will fund the 25 pilots, which are due to start next summer. After this initial investment, it is expected that universities will fund their own mentoring schemes.

Correction
The picture on The THES back page last week (December 14) showed the nine female vice-presidents of the British Academy, not the Royal Academy as reported. We apologise to both institutions.

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