For the record

March 22, 2002

Campaign to protect freedom gathers pace
Canadian and Australian academics have written to trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt demanding changes to the export control bill, which they fear could jeopardise the academic freedom of their British colleagues.
The legislation, aimed at controlling the export of goods and information that could help terrorist organisations, could allow the government to intercept research and prevent its publication. Universities UK is leading a campaign for an amendment that would enshrine academic freedom in primary legislation.

Southampton raises equality awareness
Southampton University is launching its new race-equality policy on Monday in the presence of Lord Ouseley, former executive chair of the Commission for Racial Equality.
It will undertake a programme of action based on racial equality in education and employment through the operation of fair policies and practices; awareness-raising and annual auditing; consultation; and empowerment of all in the university to tackle racial discrimination and harassment.

Imperial votes to keep independent union
Students at Imperial College, London, have voted by more than two to one in favour of their union remaining disaffiliated from the National Union of Students. Of the 2,800 students who voted, 72 per cent were against affiliation and 28 per cent were for affiliation.

Campaign talks up modern languages
A marketing campaign to reverse the crisis in modern languages at universities was launched at the British Academy in London last week. Closures of language departments have mounted steadily as fewer students opt for pure language degrees. This is contributing to a a teacher shortage.
The Southampton-based subject centre for languages, linguistics and area studies is organising marketing training workshops for language department staff and helping to coordinate a student recruitment drive.

Independents retain lead
Some 53 per cent of independent-school pupils were accepted on higher education courses in 2001-02, compared with 50 per cent of state-school pupils and 22 per cent from FE colleges, according to figures from the Department for Education and Skills. The figures are only for students going straight to full-time courses at 18.

NI reforms may spell end for 11-plus
Further education colleges in Northern Ireland are being dragged into a debate on the scrapping of the 11-plus transfer system, which could lead to changes in post-16 provision. Higher and further education minister Carmel Hanna will examine whether the proposals to end academic selection will impact on the province's colleges and two universities.

Universities threaten curriculum success
Universities are threatening to undermine Curriculum 2000 through their negative reactions to sixth-form reforms, according to research conducted by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. The study found that 42 per cent of teachers were dismayed by the attitude of university admissions officers.

Dundee prepares for two-semester future
Dundee University's court has voted to divide the academic year into two semesters instead of three terms. It said this would help students who wanted to mix and match courses and degrees within Dundee and with other universities. The revamped academic year will begin on September 22 2003 and continue to the Christmas vacation, with all examining for the semester completed by then. The second semester will run from January 19 2004 until the end of the exam period in May.

Post-16 sector wins £247 million boost
The Learning and Skills Council has announced a £247 million funding boost for post-16 education and training next year. The money includes a 2.5 per cent rise in funding rates for learning activity, £42 million for planned growth and £50 million for institutions that recruit up to 5 per cent more than their target. Higher education minister Margaret Hodge was expected to announce yesterday an additional £5 million for the FE Teaching Pay Initiative, to help boost lecturers' salaries.

Scottish Executive cuts teacher training
The Scottish Executive has announced that it will cut more than 500 teacher-training places in the coming academic year. Institutions have already begun making legally binding offers of places following guidance that they should plan for a similar intake to this year. The Scottish Executive has backtracked following difficulties in finding posts for new graduates.

British Library and Hefce enter digital deal
The British Library and the Higher Education Funding Council for England have joined forces to create a single national digital information resource for the academic and research communities. The partnership hopes to save money for both partners by sharing content and infrastructure. Future collaborations will include developing e-learning resources, contributing to the e-university and working with non-academic businesses and public libraries. The library is keen to stress its role as a resource for science researchers.

Appointment adds to mathematics' profile
The UK mathematics community now has a single voice as Christopher Llewellyn Smith, provost of University College London, takes the chair of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education. Acme will bring together academics, teachers and education specialists. It will be based at the Royal Society and is a partnership with the Joint Mathematical Council.

NUS website is a hit for 370,000 students
More than 370,000 students have registered with the National Union of Students website, During February there were nearly 200,000 hits. The site was launched in September last year.

Shopping trip provides decision-making data
The part of the brain that becomes active as people make a choice between supermarket brands has been pinpointed. A team from the Open University and the London Business School measured the magnetic fields around the brain before showing subjects a video-tour of a supermarket, asking them to choose between different brands. "Within 80 milliseconds their visual cortex responds as they perceive the choice items," said Steven Rose, OU professor of biology. "After about 800 milliseconds, if they prefer one of the items, the right parietal cortex becomes active, proving that it is the part of the brain involved in making conscious decisions."

In The THES league table of vice-chancellors' pay ( THES , February 8) the salary for Sir Brian Follett, vice-chancellor of Warwick University, included the university's contribution to his pension. His salary for the nine months he served in 2000-01 was £99,000, not £110,000, and his rise 6.4 per cent, not 19.4 per cent. The error was in Warwick's draft accounts.


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