For the record

February 22, 2002

Lower-rated research to be cut by a third
Funding for lower-rated research is to be cut by a third, according to funding chiefs. Departments that received a grade 4 in last year's research assessment exercise will get a 30 per cent funding cut next year.

The decision is expected to be confirmed by the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England on February .

The top-rated 5* departments will get a 2.5 per cent increase next year, grade 5 departments will get a 15 per cent cut and 3a departments a 70 per cent cut, on average. In units of assessment where most submissions were highly rated, the top-rated departments will receive cuts.

Paisley sees a big rise in its popularity
Paisley University recorded the highest increase in applications this year, according to figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

The university saw applications rise by 30 per cent. Other large rises were recorded by the University of Dundee, the University of Surrey, Napier University and St George's Hospital Medical School.

The universities of Nottingham, Leeds, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham were the most popular in terms of the total numbers of applications.

Stevely to take over as Scottish convener
Bill Stevely, principal of Robert Gordon University, has been elected convener of Universities Scotland, succeeding Lord Sutherland, principal of Edinburgh University. The post is for two years from September.

Fears for NI vocational training developments
A Northern Ireland Assembly committee fears developments in vocational training could be undermined by financial problems in the further education sector.

Esmond Birnie, chairman of the assembly committee for employment and learning, said six of Northern Ireland's 17 colleges had "particularly fragile balance sheets" and were implementing recovery plans. Members sought assurances from the Department for Education and Learning that these plans would not have any adverse effects on students.

More flock to join fellowships
Higher education colleges doubled their share of candidates for the 2002 National Teaching Fellowships, from 9 per cent in 2000 to 19 per cent in 2002. Nominations for the 20 awards, worth £50,000 each, came from 82 institutions: 43 per cent were old universities, 33 per cent new, 19 per cent HE colleges, 4 per cent FE and one unidentified.

Birmingham college moves to higher place
The Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies has been given permission to move from further education into the higher education sector. The transfer will take place in August, subject to parliamentary approval.

Campus Media aims to raise £2.5m to expand
Student radio broadcasting group Campus Media plans to go public to raise £2.5 million for expansion. The money will be used as working capital and to fund audience research for Campus Media's bid to become an analogue and digital supplier of youth radio programming.

Curtain goes up on theatre museum
Bristol University's theatre collection, the second largest in the country, has been awarded museum status.
It was created in 1951 as a resource for the university's drama department. It contains original documents, photographs and artifacts from theatres, actors and designers.

The new status will mean the collection is eligible for support from public sources.

Troubled Scots colleges scoop £7m for reforms
Nine further education colleges in serious financial and managerial difficulties have together won more than £7 million from the Scottish Further Education Funding Council.
David Wann, the SFEFC's acting chief executive, said the funding was "an investment in reform".

"This funding will not allow colleges' boards to avoid having to take responsibility for their college's performance," Mr Wann said. "The council will apply tighter financial controls to all colleges receiving this extra funding."

£2.5m for common learning health courses
Common learning courses for health undergraduates are to be developed over the next two years at Newcastle, Kings College London, Sheffield Hallam and Southampton. Each will be given more than £2.5 million to develop multi-professional education.
These programmes will span medical, nursing and other allied health professional provision, looking at problem-based learning, shared experiences and common practice skills.

Europe's satellite is set for launch
The European Space Agency's £1.4 billion Earth observation satellite, Envisat, is to be launched on March 1 from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

It will carry the widest range of environmental monitoring equipment yet and will record changes in the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, vegetation and ice caps. The information gathered will be shared among 14 countries and used by governments to help formulate long-term environmental policy and underpin international agreements on climate change.

Arts and humanities board gets new home
The Arts and Humanities Research Board opened its new offices in Bristol this week. The board has moved its staff and operations and retained meeting facilities and an office for the chief executive in London.
The Department for Education and Skills is expected to publish its review of arts and humanities research funding at the end of March. The AHRB hopes that this will pave the way to it becoming a research council.

Ethnic minorities find it harder to get work
Ethnic-minority graduates find it harder to get work than their white counterparts, according to an interim report from the Performance and Innovation Unit at 10 Downing Street, published this week.

"Ethnic minority job applicants are disproportionately likely to fail to get jobs that they apply for, even when class, education and location has been accounted for. Some of the unexplained residual difference can be attributed to racism or lack of cultural awareness," it states.

The report implies that universities and colleges taking large numbers of ethnic minority groups would have lower graduate employment rates than less inclusive institutions.

York student protest starts to feel the heat
Students at York University decided to sit out their sit-in even after the fire alarm went off and the fire brigade arrived.

The students had occupied their university's administrative headquarters in protest at the scaling down of night portering services. The protesters blocked so many doors that the university decided safety could not be guaranteed during an emergency.

The university authorities then set off the fire alarm in a bid to clear the students. Unfortunately, the fire brigade also turned up to find nothing ablaze.

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